Ann Conkle
Mar 13, 2012

A new way to get drugs across the blood brain barrier

One of the trickiest parts of treating brain conditions is crossing the blood brain barrier (BBB), a blockade of cells that prevent both harmful toxins and helpful pharmaceuticals from getting to the brain. But, a new technique uses an MRI machine to guide the use of microbubbles and focused ultrasound to help drugs enter the brain, which may open new treatment avenues for devastating conditions like Alzheimer's and brain cancers. The current method of disrupting the blood-brain barrier is by using osmotic agents such as mannitol, which suck the water out of the cells that form the barrier, causing the gaps between them The microbubble technique can be used on a very small area of the BBB. The microbubbles, made of lipids and gas, are injected into the blood stream. When focused ultrasound is applied, the bubbles expand and contract. The force of the movement in the bubbles causes the cells that form the BBB to temporarily separate, allowing drugs to reach the brain.