Promising results from low-intensity ultrasound trial

1 min read

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois believe they are a step closer to finding an effective treatment for glioblastoma (GBM), thanks to a low-intensity ultrasound technique.

The ultrasound device implanted in the skull uses tiny bubbles to open the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs to the brain to treat GBM.

The blood-brain barrier is a network of blood vessels and cells that protects the brain from toxins and infection, however it also makes it hard for chemotherapy drugs to reach brain tumour cells, making the disease difficult to treat.

As part of the phase 1 clinical trial, 17 glioblastoma patients had the ultrasound device implanted in the skull. A few weeks later, they began treatment with common chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel.

For the first time, scientists have been able to quantify the concentrations of chemotherapy drug in the human brain after the device was used to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier. Researchers found that opening the barrier led to a four to six-fold increase in drug concentrations in the human brain. They also noted that the barrier restoration happens in the first 30 to 60 minutes after sonication.

The treatment was found to be safe and well-tolerated and some patients received up to six cycles.

Lead investigator Dr Adam Sonabend, associate professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine neurosurgeon, said the work, published in Lancet Oncology, “opens the door to investigate novel drug-based treatments for millions of patients who suffer from various brain diseases”.

Dr Karen Noble, our Director of Research, Policy and Innovation, said: “The results from this trial sound hugely encouraging. To be able to open the barrier with the patient awake, and for them to be able to go home after a few hours, could be totally game-changing. Being able to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier with new and existing drugs could lead to a revolution in care for brain tumours and for other neurological conditions.”

Read the full article in The Sun.

Related reading:

  • Launch of UK Focused Ultrasound Foundation could see more clinical trials
  • Breakthrough co-funded by Brain Tumour Research could mean more effective treatment for GBM


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