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Ultrasound Breakthrough Chemotherapy Drugs Reach Deadly Brain Tumours Through BloodBrain Barrier

In a groundbreaking development for the treatment of brain cancers, scientists at Northwestern University have discovered a way to use ultrasound to create gaps in the blood-brain barrier. This protective layer of tightly-packed cells around the brain prevents toxins from entering, but also hinders chemotherapy drugs from reaching the necessary areas. By using ultrasound on patients with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor, the team was able to open the barrier and allow chemotherapy drugs inside for the first time. This breakthrough is significant because the most powerful drugs, such as paclitaxel and carboplatin, have been unable to penetrate into the brain, leaving glioblastoma without an effective treatment option. The ultrasound treatment creates microbubbles which cause the cells to pull apart for an hour, providing a critical time window for the drugs to penetrate before the barrier closes back up with no long-term damage. Dr. Adam Sonabend, the lead investigator, notes that “there is a critical time window after sonification when the brain is permeable to drugs circulating in the bloodstream.”

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