In a breakthrough, scientists have for the first time successfully used focused ultrasound to non-invasively destroy a part of brain tumour through a patient's intact skull.
The treatment was conducted at the Focused Ultrasound Center of University Children's Hospital Zurich.
"The patient was awake and responsive during the treatment, and we were able to successfully target and destroy a part of the tumour located deep within the patient's brain," said Javier Fandino, Professor of Neurosurgery at Kantonsspital Aarau, Switzerland.
"We are very encouraged that we could utilise focused ultrasound to accomplish this with no side effects or complications," said Fandino.
Focused ultrasound employs thousands of ultrasound beams that converge on a spot deep in the body.
At this focal point, the ultrasound can cause a variety of biological effects, and in this case, heat and destroy the cancerous tissue, researchers said.
"The ability of focused ultrasound to accomplish both small lesions for functional neurosurgery as well as bulk lesions for tumour ablation is amazing," said Ernst Martin, Professor of Neuroradiology, University Children's Hospital Zurich.
There is an urgent need for new approaches to treating brain tumours, researchers said.
With its ability to noninvasively and accurately target and destroy diseased areas while sparing healthy adjacent brain tissue, focused ultrasound could be the breakthrough that patients and physicians have been waiting for.
"Treatment of this patient is the first critical step in the path to developing a new, noninvasive approach for patients with brain tumours that could serve as an alternative to surgery or radiation therapy," said Neal F Kassell, Chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
"Additional clinical trials to prove safety and efficacy are required to translate this milestone into a treatment that could improve the quality of life and longevity for countless individuals," said Kassell.
The procedure was performed to assess the feasibility and safety of focused ultrasound in treating brain tumours and was not intended to demonstrate efficacy, researchers said.