Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Crossing the blood-brain barrier to better combat brain cancer

Here’s some potentially good news from Ryan Cross who wrote about Alexandre Carpentier (pictured above), a neurosurgeon at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, who used “ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, the most common and deadly tumor originating in the adult brain—allowing for delivery of chemotherapy that would otherwise reach the tumor in minuscule amounts” - https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601691/ultrasound-opens-the-brain-to-promising-drugs/

As background, you should know that the protective sheath surrounding the brain’s blood supply—known as the blood-brain barrier—is a safeguard against nasty germs and toxins. But it also prevents existing drugs that could potentially be used to treat brain cancer or Alzheimer’s disease from reaching the brain.

According to Cross, “the procedure works by first injecting microbubbles into the bloodstream and then using a device implanted near patients’ tumors to send ultrasonic soundwaves into the brain, exciting the bubbles. The physical pressure of the bubbles pushing on the cells temporarily opens the blood-brain barrier, letting an injected drug cross into the brain.”

Here’s a link to the abstract: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/343/343re2

Picture: Alexandre Carpentier holds the SonoCloud device, which he has implanted in 15 brain cancer patients.