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Antitumor Effects of Combining Docetaxel (Taxotere) with the Antivascular Action of Ultrasound Stimulated Microbubbles

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posted on 24.05.2021, 20:29 authored by Raffi Karshafian, David E. Goertz, Margarita Todorova, Omid Mortazavi, Vlad Agache, Branson Chen, Kullervo Hynynen
Ultrasound stimulated microbubbles (USMB) are being investigated for their potential to promote the uptake of anticancer agents into tumor tissue by exploiting their ability to enhance microvascular permeability. At sufficiently high ultrasound transmit amplitudes it has also recently been shown that USMB treatments can, on their own, induce vascular damage, shutdown blood flow, and inhibit tumor growth. The objective of this study is to examine the antitumor effects of ‘antivascular’ USMB treatments in conjunction with chemotherapy, which differs from previous work which has sought to enhance drug uptake with USMBs by increasing vascular permeability. Conceptually this is a strategy similar to combining vascular disrupting agents with a chemotherapy, and we have selected the taxane docetaxel (Taxotere) for evaluating this approach as it has previously been shown to have potent antitumor effects when combined with small molecule vascular disrupting agents. Experiments were conducted on PC3 tumors implanted in athymic mice. USMB treatments were performed at a frequency of 1 MHz employing sequences of 50 ms bursts (0.00024 duty cycle) at 1.65 MPa. USMB treatments were administered on a weekly basis for 4 weeks with docetaxel (DTX) being given intravenously at a dose level of 5 mg/kg. The USMB treatments, either alone or in combination with DTX, induced an acute reduction in tumor perfusion which was accompanied at the 24 hour point by significantly enhanced necrosis and apoptosis. Longitudinal experiments showed a modest prolongation in survival but no significant growth inhibition occurred in DTX–only and USMB-only treatment groups relative to control tumors. The combined USMB-DTX treatment group produced tumor shrinkage in weeks 4–6, and significant growth inhibition and survival prolongation relative to the control (p<0.001), USMB-only (p<0.01) and DTX-only treatment groups (p<0.01). These results suggest the potential of enhancing the antitumor activity of docetaxel by combining it with antivascular USMB effects.

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