By Lee Ann Santore
The blood-brain barrier acts as a shield to the brain and prevents toxins from reaching the central nervous system. Unfortunately, it also prevents the passage of medicines into the brain. A team of Canadian researchers from the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, led by Todd Mainprize, has developed a technique to penetrate the blood-brain barrier by injecting microscopic bubbles into the bloodstreams of cancer patients. These bubbles, when hit with a beam of ultrasound waves, oscillate their way through the barrier, leaving little holes for chemotherapy drugs to also pass through. The ability to penetrate the barrier non-invasively could aid in treating millions of patients with not only cancer, but also other brain illnesses including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. More trials need to be run to ensure the safety of this procedure since the blood-brain barrier is a sealed system and there could risks associated with opening it.
- Roberts, Scientists breach brain barrier to treat sick patient. BBC News. (2015).