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Biomaterials. 2012 Jul;33(20):5124-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.03.066. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Hollow silica and silica-boron nano/microparticles for contrast-enhanced ultrasound to detect small tumors.

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University of California, San Diego, Materials Science and Engineering Program, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Diagnosing tumors at an early stage when they are easily curable and may not require systemic chemotherapy remains a challenge to clinicians. In order to improve early cancer detection, gas filled hollow boron-doped silica particles have been developed, which can be used for ultrasound-guided breast conservation therapy. The particles are synthesized using a polystyrene template and subsequently calcinated to create hollow, rigid nanoporous microspheres. The microshells are filled with perfluoropentane vapor. Studies were performed in phantoms to optimize particle concentration, injection dose, and the ultrasound settings such as pulse frequency and mechanical index. In vitro studies have shown that these particles can be continuously imaged by US up to 48 min and their signal lifetime persisted for 5 days. These particles could potentially be given by intravenous injection and, in conjunction with contrast-enhanced ultrasound, be utilized as a screening tool to detect smaller breast cancers before they are detectible by traditional mammography.

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