Scientists have known for some time that ethanol can kill cancer cells, but several limitations held it back from becoming a broadly used treatment. A team at Duke University has recently developed a new type of ethanol solution that can be injected directly into a variety of tumors to potentially offer a new, safe, and cheap form of cancer treatment.
Ethanol ablation is a form of cancer therapy where ethanol is injected directly into a tumor. It is currently used only for some types of liver and thyroid cancers and the treatment is notoriously limited because of the need to use large volumes of ethanol that can damage surrounding tissue. This means it is primarily only effective for tumors surrounded by a fibrous capsule that can contain the ethanol.
Researchers at Duke University have overcome these limitations by developing a solution that mixes ethanol with ethyl cellulose. This novel solution turns into a gel when injected into a tumor, allowing it to remain concentrated at the site of injection.