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Powerful chemotherapy drug reaches brain tumors using novel ultrasound technology

Device uses microbubbles to open blood-brain barrier to treat glioblastoma in humans

A major impediment to treating the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma has been that the most potent chemotherapy can’t permeate the blood-brain barrier to reach the aggressive brain tumor.

But now Northwestern Medicine scientists report results of the first in-human clinical trial in which they used a novel, skull-implantable ultrasound device to open the blood-brain barrier and repeatedly permeate large, critical regions of the human brain to deliver chemotherapy that was injected intravenously.

The four-minute procedure to open the blood-brain barrier is performed with the patient awake, and patients go home after a few hours. The results show the treatment is safe and well tolerated, with some patients getting up to six cycles of treatment.

This is the first study to successfully quantify the effect of ultrasound-based blood-brain barrier opening on the concentrations of chemotherapy in the human brain. Opening the blood-brain barrier led to an approximately four- to six-fold increase in drug concentrations in the human brain, the results showed.

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