One of the big problems to carry medication directly to the brain is about to be solved.
That problem is called the blood brain barrier or membrane, a kind of biological wall that prevents too large substances from reaching our thinking organ, including many of the drugs that we currently use (such as chemotherapy). This is good and bad at the same time, since it protects our brain from brain toxins, but it prevents us from treating it from some diseases.
Now, thanks to a group of French researchers, whose work has been published in Science Translational Medicine, it is possible that the problem with the treatment of brain tumors can be solved thanks to chemotherapy microbubbles.
Chemotherapy microbubbles, the solution against brain cancer?
Although a similar method was tried with Parkinson’s, using cellular bubbles to deliver medication directly to neurons that were not recognized as toxins by the blood-brain barrier, this time the method is somewhat different. Chemotherapy microbubbles will not be delivered directly to the brain, but instead microbubbles will serve to temporarily open the barrier and allow large doses of drugs to pass.
If the results of the research are positive, brain tumors would not be the only objective of this new form of treatment, since neuronal diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or even the consequences of strokes could receive treatment thanks to this novel method. .
How do chemotherapy microbubbles work?
The procedure for these microbubbles is a bit complex. First they will inject small gas bubbles in the blood wrapped by a natural covering. They only last 4 minutes but, at the same time, an ultrasound will be applied directly in a specific area of the brain. This will cause the bubbles to vibrate, opening the blood brain barrier. So far, only 15 volunteers with a tumor called cerebral glioblastoma have been tested.
During clinical trials, a device called SonoCloud implanted inside the volunteers’ skull is being used, making the technique more precise, along with the use of a chemotherapy drug called carboplatin. With just 2 minutes of use the device manages to get the medicine to the brain.
According to the first results, after a maximum of six treatments of this style per month, the MRI indicated that the amount of chemotherapy was five times greater in the brain than using the usual treatments. At the moment it is difficult to know the effects of this novel long-term treatment, and obviously more research will be necessary for many years, with a greater number of patients, to ensure efficacy and safety.