Study defines mechanisms behind focused-ultrasound-assisted treatment of brain tumors

A study led by a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has analyzed, for the first time, the mechanisms underlying the use of focused ultrasound to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs across the blood brain barrier into brain tumors. Their report published in PNAS uses advanced microcopy techniques and mathematical modeling to track the potential of this promising, minimally invasive treatment approach in an animal model of breast cancer brain metastasis. The team also included investigators from Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Edinburgh and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The blood brain barrier is a challenge in the treatment of brain malignancies, as it can hinder drug delivery,” says co-corresponding and co-lead author Costas Arvanitis, PhD. “Even when a drug reaches the brain’s circulation, abnormal blood vessels in and around tumors lead to non-uniform drug delivery, with low concentrations in some areas of the tumor. If a drug makes it to a region of the tumor and crosses the abnormal blood vessel wall, it encounters dense tissue within the tumor that can block access to malignant cells. We sought to use a new methodology that may improve these abnormal transport properties to enhance drug delivery and


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