08 October 2020

Hundreds of times less

Scientists have developed a way to deliver drugs to the brain with millimeter accuracy

Svetlana Maslova, Hi-tech+

The approach is based on two-stage ultrasound exposure, which helps to accurately release the drug in the affected area of the brain. This opens up new opportunities in the treatment of cancer and neurological diseases, the therapy of which is currently limited due to the difficulty of accessing damaged areas of the brain.

The development of a new technology belongs to scientists from the Swiss Higher Technical School of Zurich. They showed that now the release of drugs in the brain can be organized with millimeter precision (Millimetre-precision drug delivery to the brain).

Article by Ozdas et al. Non-invasive molecular-specific millimeter-resolution manipulation of brain circuits by ultrasound-mediated aggregation and uncaging of drug carriers is published in the journal Nature Communications – VM.

Until now, it was impossible to achieve such accuracy, since drugs moving through the bloodstream could not selectively affect tissues and were distributed much wider than the affected area. This is ineffective and causes side effects. Now scientists have used ultrasound to control the process.

The drug is packaged in special carriers based on lipid vesicles, which are attached to ultrasound-sensitive gas-containing bubbles. First, they are injected into the bloodstream, and then, after entering the brain, they begin to be released using ultrasound.

At the first stage, the drug is concentrated in the affected area of the brain using low-frequency sound waves, and then higher frequencies cause the drug carriers to vibrate in the right place, releasing the drug.


"Sound waves destroy the lipid membranes around drugs and release it into the brain tissue specifically at the site of the lesion," the authors explain.

The technology has already shown effectiveness in experiments on rat models.

An important advantage of the new approach is the low dosage of the drugs used, since they can be concentrated in a given area of the brain. For example, in experiments with rats, scientists applied a dosage 1,300 times less than usual.

Currently, the team is already testing its approach on models of mental illness in animals. They hope that soon they will be able to evaluate its effectiveness in humans, so that in the future the therapy of brain cancer and neurological diseases will be more targeted and with minimal side effects.

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