Focused ultrasound delivers drugs and healthy genes to the brain

One of the key problems that doctors face in treating brain diseases is the low permeability of the hematoencephalic barrier. It is a physiological barrier that consists mainly of endothelial cells lining the walls of cerebral vessels. The aim of the hematoencephalic barrier (HEB) is to protect central nervous system tissues from toxic substances, microorganisms, immune cells that are perceived by the brain as alien. 

The low permeability of HEB prevents drugs from entering the brain, even at high blood concentrations. Scientists at the University of Virginia (USA) have developed a technology to solve this issue: to deliver drugs to the brain cells they use focused ultrasound. 

Specialists compare the principle of action of focused ultrasound with a magnifying lens, which allows you to "catch" and concentrate light waves on a certain area of the surface. The technology, developed by American scientists, allows to focus the ultrasound ultra

sound waves and direct them to a specific section of the hematoencephalic barrier. As a result, the permeability of HEB in this area is temporarily increased, which creates opportunities for drug delivery. It is important that the method allows drugs to be delivered to a specific area of the brain. 

The authors of the method believe that this technology will help bring to a new level of treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, epilepsy. Currently, therapy with focused ultrasound has already been tested on patients with Parkinson's disease. Treatment was carried out under MRI control: brain scan confirmed that the medicine was delivered to a precisely selected area of the brain. 

Another promising application of focused ultrasound is genetic engineering. Thus, the technology makes it possible to correct the DNA of tumor cells in the brain, creating the conditions for the delivery of nanoparticles and healthy genes. In addition, focused ultrasound helps to restore brain tissue after a stroke - it creates the conditions for delivery to the destroyed areas of stem cells. 

May 14, 2020, 9:39 a.m.

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