Acoustically Detonated Microbubbles Coupled with Low Frequency Insonation: Multiparameter Evaluation of Low Energy Mechanical Ablation

Mike Bismuth, Sharon Katz, Hagar Rosenblatt, Maayan Twito, Ramona Aronovich, Tali Ilovitsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Noninvasive ultrasound surgery can be achieved using focused ultrasound to locally affect the targeted site without damaging intervening tissues. Mechanical ablation and histotripsy use short and intense acoustic pulses to destroy the tissue via a purely mechanical effect. Here, we show that coupled with low-frequency excitation, targeted microbubbles can serve as mechanical therapeutic warheads that trigger potent mechanical effects in tumors using focused ultrasound. Upon low frequency excitation (250 kHz and below), high amplitude microbubble oscillations occur at substantially lower pressures as compared to higher MHz ultrasonic frequencies. For example, inertial cavitation was initiated at a pressure of 75 kPa for a center frequency of 80 kHz. Low frequency insonation of targeted microbubbles was then used to achieve low energy tumor cell fractionation at pressures below a mechanical index of 1.9, and in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration guidelines. We demonstrate these capabilities in vitro and in vivo. In cell cultures, cell viability was reduced to 16% at a peak negative pressure of 800 kPa at the 250 kHz frequency (mechanical index of 1.6) and to 10% at a peak negative pressure of 250 kPa at a frequency of 80 kHz (mechanical index of 0.9). Following an intratumoral injection of targeted microbubbles into tumor-bearing mice, and coupled with low frequency ultrasound application, significant tumor debulking and cancer cell death was observed. Our findings suggest that reducing the center frequency enhances microbubble-mediated mechanical ablation; thus, this technology provides a unique theranostic platform for safe low energy tumor fractionation, while reducing off-Target effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1079
Number of pages11
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2022


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