New trial offers hope for brain tumour patients

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We are pleased to be sharing the news that a new trial using ultrasound could offer hope to brain tumour patients.

A technique to temporarily allow drugs and other substances to cross the blood-brain barrier has been developed and could revolutionise the treatment of brain tumours. A trial of four women whose breast cancer had spread to the brain showed that the magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) could safely deliver the antibody therapy Herceptin into their brain tissue, causing the tumours to shrink.

Speaking in today’s The Guardian, consultant neurosurgeon Mr Kevin O’Neill (pictured), who leads the team at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London, said: “Many therapies that are coming through for brain cancer need a delivery system that not only packages and protects them but directs them to the correct area.

“Injecting them into the brain is one way, but this approach would be better because it is effectively non-invasive. You are kind of opening a portal in the blood-brain barrier at the desired site. It’s a step forward to opening the door to other therapies.”

MRgFUS uses focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in specific regions by causing microscopic bubbles of contrast agent that have been injected into the patient to oscillate. These oscillations pull the cells apart, allowing substances to pass through.

The research which took place in Canada and is published in Science Translational Medicine, showed that the drug was successfully delivered and, importantly, none of the patients experienced any serious adverse effects. Further imaging suggested their blood-brain barriers resealed after 24 hours.

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