Public Release: 

Tiny bubbles offer sound solution for drug delivery

Noninvasive approach to drug delivery for next generation brain therapies uses ultrasound and bubbles

Acoustical Society of America

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IMAGE: Cavitation microstreaming generated by a SonoVue microbubble and marked by fluorescent beads. Under ultrasound exposure, microbubbles can produce streaming flows which may contribute to blood-brain barrier opening and will be... view more 

Credit: Miles M. Aron, courtesy of BUBBL, University of Oxford, England

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2017 -- Your brain is armored. It lives in a box made of bones with a security system of vessels. These vessels protect the brain and central nervous system from harmful chemicals circulating in the blood. Yet this protection system -- known as the blood-brain barrier -- also prevents delivery of drugs that could help treat patients with brain cancers and brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. The heavily guarded brain has long frustrated physicians tending patients in need of brain treatments without surgery.

With recent advances in technology, the blood-brain barrier can now be opened safely, noninvasively and in a targeted manner using ultrasound. One of the newest approaches aiming to advance this research will be presented during Acoustics '17 Boston, the third joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the European Acoustics Association being held June 25-29, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Investigators at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, collaborating with colleagues at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, have produced a promising in vitro experimental platform to investigate relationships between the way the blood-brain barrier opens, how long it takes to recover, and the sounds emitted during blood-brain barrier opening. Think of it as a blood-brain barrier on-a-chip using cultured cells rather than animal or human models.

"The key advantage of our system is that it uses three modalities -- involving light, sound, and electrical fields -- to simultaneously monitor acoustic emissions, blood-brain barrier disruption and recovery, and the biological response of blood-brain barrier cells in real-time," said Miles M. Aron at the University of Oxford.

Researchers have tried to open the blood-brain barrier using ultrasound since the 1950s. The breakthrough for safely opening the blood-brain barrier was to use tiny bubbles that interact with the ultrasound field known as "cavitation agents." Several cavitation agents are already approved for enhancing contrast in ultrasound imaging by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cavitation agents work by oscillating rapidly or "singing" when exposed to ultrasound.

"The treatment can be monitored externally by 'listening' to the re-radiated sound from the cavitation agents interacting with the ultrasound field. These acoustic emissions provide information regarding the energy of cavitation within the blood vessels and are already being used to adjust ultrasound parameters in real-time to reduce the likelihood of damaging healthy cells during treatment," Aron said.

The team monitors acoustic emissions and the integrity of the blood-brain barrier in real-time throughout the treatment, an improvement compared to other approaches that generally involve blood-brain barrier assessment only after the treatment is completed, Aron said.

In addition, the team uses fluorescent probes to monitor either changes in the cells during treatment, or mechanical and chemical effects from the cavitation agents as they are exposed to ultrasound in real-time.

"By analyzing multiple sources of data during ultrasound exposure and throughout BBB recovery, we aim to better understand this promising new treatment," Aron said. "With the Oxford Centre for Drug Delivery Devices, OxCD3, we are currently working on a non-invasive method to detect and treat brain metastases before they become deadly. Our in vitro system will play a critical role in the development of this and other next-generation approaches to ultrasound-mediated blood brain barrier opening."

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Session 1aBAb3, "Ultrasound-mediated blood-barrier disruption" by Miles M. Aron, is at 11:20-11:40 a.m. EDT, Sunday, June 25, 2017 in Room 312 of the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center.

MORE MEETING INFORMATION

Acoustics '17 Boston, the third joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the European Acoustics Association. The meeting is being held June 25-29, 2017 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

MORE MEETING INFORMATION

Acoustics '17 Boston, the third joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the European Acoustics Association.

The meeting is being held June 25-29, 2017 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

USEFUL LINKS

Main meeting website: http://acousticalsociety.org/content/acoustics-17-boston

Technical program: http://acousticalsociety.org/content/program-acoustics-17-boston

Meeting/Hotel site: http://acousticalsociety.org/content/acoustics-17-boston#reservation

Press Room: http://acoustics.org

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOM

In the coming weeks, ASA's World Wide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay-language papers, which are 300-800 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at: http://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/.

PRESS REGISTRATION

We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact Julia Majors (jmajors@aip.org) at AIP Media, 301-209-3090 who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information. For urgent requests, contact media@aip.org.

LIVE MEDIA WEBCAST

A press briefing featuring will be webcast live from the conference on Monday, June 26, 2017 in the afternoon and Tuesday, June 27, 2017 in the morning in room 111 of the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

Register at https://www1.webcastcanada.ca/webcast/registration/asa617.php to watch the live webcast. The schedule will be posted here as soon as it is available.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at http://www.acousticalsociety.org.

ABOUT THE EUROPEAN ACOUSTICS ASSOCIATION

The European Acoustics Association (EAA) is a non-profit entity established in 1992 that includes in its membership societies predominantly in European countries interested in to promote development and progress of acoustics in its different aspects, its technologies and applications. EAA gathers 33 societies of acoustics and serves public citizens and more than 9000 individual members all over Europe with yearly events as well as scientific conferences and publications such as Acta Acustica united with Acustica and Acoustics in Practice. The European Acoustics Association (EAA) is an Affiliate Member of the International Commission for Acoustics (ICA) and of Initiative of Science in Europe ISE: https://euracoustics.org/.

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