Cancer is like the supervillain that all the heroes must team up to defeat. University researchers play the heroes in this analogy, always coming up with new tricks and methods to beat back cancer in its various forms. Nowhere is this theme more prevalent than at the University of Cincinnati, where we have seen remarkable improvements to cancer imaging technology and vaccines to enhance immunotherapy in some of our previous blogs. UC’s new superpower appears to be flash freezing as a method of targeting and eliminating tumors.
Flash freezing is a form of cryotherapy which delivers liquid nitrogen at temperatures of -196 degrees Celsius (about -321° F) to a select area of tissue. The cells on the surface die at these temperatures, but the tissue underneath remains perfectly intact. This is an excellent option if a patient cannot handle or risk the damage of other methods of cancer treatment, like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment.
University of Cincinnati researcher Sadia Benzaquen (below, courtesy uc.edu) finds this technique especially useful for dealing with tumors in and near the lungs. The most common procedure in this case is a targeted laser, but this requires reducing the amount of oxygen in the airway, which can be problematic. "Most of our patients are so sick that it is really difficult to wean the oxygen to lower levels to be able to use the laser,” he explains. This is where flash freezing has a huge advantage: it works just as well regardless of the amount of oxygen present.
(Professors Williams and Benzaquen, respectively)
The treatment can also be used in patients with Barrett’s esophagus, an affliction marked by a very acidic esophagus lining, similar to that of the stomach. This environment can breed cancer, which means that applying flash freeze has a twofold benefit: it immediately destroys the tumor, and can restore the lining of the esophagus to normal in only two or three treatment sessions. In this way both the symptoms and the root cause are addressed in one elegant solution. Researcher Valerie Williams (above, courtesy uc.edu) sums it up nicely in a UC press release:
"The addition of the cryotherapy technology at UC adds to the current endoscopic and surgical options we offer to provide the full spectrum of treatment options close to home for those with esophageal cancer and disease.”
In other words, the University of Cincinnati seems to be the hero of choice when it comes to combating the many faces of cancer. In this case, it needed the help of the company CSA Medical, which provided the base cryotherapy method TruFreeze. This is a great example of a lab supply company directly helping researchers meet their goals. (Dare we say “sidekick”?)
Helping forge that connection between laboratory suppliers and university researchers is Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full-service science research marketing and events-planning company that hosts events at top research institutions nationwide. We host a show on the UC campus, the Cincinnati Bioresearch Product Faire™, every year. We encourage you to check out our 2013 schedule for a more complete geographical selection.