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New non-invasive technique controls size of molecules penetrating the blood-brain barrier
Date:8/14/2014

New York, NYAugust 14, 2014A new technique developed by Elisa Konofagou, associate professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at Columbia Engineering, has demonstrated for the first time that the size of molecules penetrating the blood-brain barrier (BBB) can be controlled using acoustic pressurethe pressure of an ultrasound beamto let specific molecules through. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

"This is an important breakthrough in getting drugs delivered to specific parts of the brain precisely, non-invasively, and safely, and may help in the treatment of central nervous system diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," says Konofagou, whose National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant (R01) funding was just renewed for another four years for an additional $2.22 million. The award is for research to determine the role of the microbubble in controlling both the efficacy and safety of drug safety through the BBB with a specific application for treating Parkinson's disease.

Most smalland all largemolecule drugs do not currently penetrate the blood-brain barrier that sits between the vascular bed and the brain tissue. "As a result," Konofagou explains, "all central nervous system diseases remain undertreated at best. For example, we know that Parkinson's disease would benefit by delivery of therapeutic molecules to the neurons so as to impede their slow death. But because of the virtually impermeable barrier, these drugs can only reach the brain through direct injection and that requires anesthesia and drilling the skull while also increasing the risk of infection and limiting the number of sites of injection. And transcranial injections rarely workonly about one in ten is successful."

Focused ultrasound in conjunction with microbubblesgas-filled bubbles coated by protein or lipid shellscontinues to be the only technique that can permeate the BBB saf
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Contact: Holly Evarts
holly.evarts@columbia.edu
347-453-7408
Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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