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Triggered release and targeted drug delivery of potent anti-cancer agents using hyperthermia-mediated focused-ultrasound (FUS) is gaining momentum in the clinical setting. In early phase studies, tissue biopsy samples may be harvested to assess drug delivery efficacy and demonstrate lack of instantaneous cell death due to FUS exposure. We present an optimised tissue cell recovery method and a cell viability assay, compatible with intra-cellular doxorubicin. Flow cytometry was used to determine levels of cell death with suspensions comprised of: (i) HT29 cell line exposed to hyperthermia (30 min at 47 °C) and/or doxorubicin, or ex-vivo bovine liver tissue exposed to (ii) hyperthermia (up to 2 h at 45 °C), or (iii) ablative high intensity FUS (HIFU). Flow cytometric analysis revealed maximal cell death in HT29 receiving both heat and doxorubicin insults and increases in both cell granularity (p < 0.01) and cell death (p < 0.01) in cells recovered from ex-vivo liver tissue exposed to hyperthermia and high pressures of HIFU (8.2 MPa peak-to-peak free-field at 1 MHz) relative to controls. Ex-vivo results were validated with microscopy using pan-cytokeratin stain. This rapid, sensitive and highly quantitative cell-viability method is applicable to the small masses of liver tissue typically recovered from a standard core biopsy (5-20 mg) and may be applied to tissues of other histological origins including immunostaining.

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