Scientists from Duke University, North Carolina have developed a method for treating tumors with ethanol injections as a cheap alternative to surgery in poor countries.

While ethanol-based tumor ablation is successful in treating the most common type of liver cancer, there are limitations to its wider use. These include decreased efficacy in treatment of non-capsulated tumors and the need to inject large volumes of ethanol which could damage the surrounding tissue.

The researches have addressed these by keeping ethanol within the tumor by adding ethyl cellulose to form gel. Tests have shown that ethanol-based gel injections deliver a 100% cure rate for epithelial tumors in a hamster model.

Ethanol-based ablation is appealing for use in developing countries as it is very low-cost and requires no specialised equipment. The research was published in Nature Scientific Reports in August.

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