Modifying Ultrasound Waveform Parameters to Control, Influence, or Disrupt Cells

David Reza Mittelstein
Date: February 26, 2020, 1:30 PM
Location: Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)

David Reza Mittelstein Ultrasound can be focused into deep tissues with millimeter precision to perform non-invasive ablative therapy for diseases such as cancer. In most cases, this ablation uses high intensity ultrasound to deposit non-selective thermal or mechanical energy at the ultrasound focus, damaging both healthy bystander tissue and cancer cells. Here we describe an alternative low intensity pulsed ultrasound approach known as “oncotripsy” that leverages the distinct mechanical properties of neoplastic cells to achieve inherent cancer selectivity. We show that when applied at a specific frequency and pulse duration, focused ultrasound selectively disrupts a panel of breast, colon, and leukemia cancer cell models in suspension without significantly damaging healthy immune or red blood cells. Mechanistic experiments reveal that the formation of acoustic standing waves and the emergence of cell-seeded cavitation lead to cytoskeletal disruption, expression of apoptotic markers, and cell death. The inherent selectivity of this low intensity pulsed ultrasound approach offers a potentially safer and thus more broadly applicable alternative to non-selective high intensity ultrasound ablation.

In this dissertation, I describe the oncotripsy theory in its initial formulation, the experimental validation and investigation of testable predictions from that theory, and the refinement of said theory with new experimental evidence. Throughout, I describe how careful modifications to the ultrasound waveform directly can significantly impact how the ultrasound bio-effects control, influence, or disrupt cells in a selective and controlled manner.