Elevating tissue temperature to a mild 42°C (107°F) and maintaining for several minutes can increase blood flow and drug absorption in the targeted region without causing permanent damage.

Using the body’s response to this localized mild hyperthermia, drug delivery and uptake can be enhanced. Additionally, more oxygen is delivered to hyperthermic targets, enhancing their metabolic activity and sensitivity to drugs. This method has been used in clinical settings to enhance the delivery and efficacy of drugs in targeted areas with restricted blood flow, especially tumors.

Focused ultrasound is an optimal technology for inducing hyperthermia because of its ability to precisely deposit energy within the body. Tissue temperature can be monitored in real time using magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound imaging or interstitial thermocouples, which allows for accurate control of the treatment. The effects induced by local hyperthermia are temporary and precise, and hold potential to make focused ultrasound an excellent complement to drug therapy. Because of focused ultrasound’s ability to penetrate deep into the body, there are numerous and wide ranging potential clinical uses for hyperthermia. Many drugs would benefit from enhanced delivery and efficacy, and mild hyperthermia has even been shown to induce an immune response against some tumors.

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