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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

Focused ultrasound to open blood-brain barrier

A clinical trial conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center is exploring the use of MRI-guided, focused ultrasound to breach the blood-brain barrier enabling more effective drug delivery to the brain.

One of the key challenges for the treatment of brain tumours is the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a membrane which protects the brain from harmful substances. Unfortunately, this also prevents a lot of drugs from accessing the sites of brain tumours.

According to the research, 98 percent of currently approved drugs don’t enter the brain because of the blood-brain barrier which is one of the reasons why brain tumours remain so difficult to treat.

The process incorporates injecting microbubbles into a patient’s bloodstream. These microbubbles vibrate in response to MRI-guided, focused ultrasound signals, expanding the blood vessel walls and creating a temporary opening of the barrier. This method is non-invasive and doesn’t cause any tissue damage.

Researchers at our Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth, have developed a model of the BBB and are using it to investigate the use of other agents, such as nanoparticles, to help drugs to cross into the brain and access the tumour site killing the tumour cells.

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