- A recent National Geographic story is an in-depth look at focused ultrasound for drug delivery, blood-brain barrier opening, and more.
- National Geographic has a circulation of 2.2 million and more than 27 million followers on Twitter.
A recent National Geographic lead story, “New Method Delivers Life-Saving Drugs to the Brain – Using Sound Waves,” provides an in-depth look at focused ultrasound for drug delivery, blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening, and more.
The article includes interviews and/or research from Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD; Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto; Graeme Woodworth, MD, University of Maryland; Elisa Konofagou, PhD, Columbia University; Jose Obeso, MD, PhD, HM CINAC in Madrid; and others.
An editor’s foreword was included with the US version of the article, and it appears below.
Editor’s foreword: “Can Ultrasounds Deliver Drugs to our Brains?”
By Victoria Jaggard
The human body is very good at protecting the brain. A nice thick skull guards this most vital of organs from bumps and bruises, and a network of interlocking cells surrounding it keeps out unwanted chemical intruders lurking in the blood. But sometimes the brain is a little too protected for its own good. For most of medical history, the blood-brain barrier has prevented doctors from safely treating brain conditions such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease with targeted life-saving drugs.
Now, though, scientists seem to be on the verge of a literal breakthrough. A technique called focused ultrasound can safely open up a gate in the blood-brain barrier, and early clinical trials are showing glimmers of promise for delivering drugs to treat brain cancers. Lab results are also showing encouraging signs for using focused ultrasound to treat neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It’s still early days for the technology, and there are challenges in making it widely accessible. But experts and patients are already excited by its potential. “We can do it monthly, we can do it with a high degree of control and safety, and the patients tolerate it very well,” neurosurgeon Graeme Woodworth tells Nat Geo.