Focused Ultrasound—Assisted Liquid Biopsy in the Brain


Focused Ultrasound for Safe and Effective Release of Brain Tumor Biomarkers into the Peripheral Circulation

GBM illustrationHong Chen’s group in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis recently published new parameters for using focused ultrasound to improve the biomarker yield when conducting liquid biopsy for brain tumors. Besides creating an entrance for drug delivery, the technology’s ability to disrupt the blood-brain barrier when combined with microbubbles also provides an opportunity to release brain tumor biomarkers – such as DNA, RNA, and proteins – into the blood stream. To demonstrate that focused ultrasound liquid biopsy could increase plasma levels of brain tumor biomarkers without causing hemorrhage, the researchers treated mice implanted with glioma cells at three peak negative pressure levels (0.59, 1.29, and 1.58 MPa) and then quantified the levels of mRNA from the circulation. The highest level of biomarker release, and the lowest level of microhemorrhage, occurred at 0.59 Mpa. Could their technical discoveries make blood-based liquid biopsy a more effective and viable option for diagnosing and monitoring brain tumors?

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