One of the greatest frustrations for doctors dealing with brain tumors is called the blood brain barrier. It’s the defense our bodies have created to keep toxins from passing from our blood into our brains – but it also stops medicines from making the crossing too.
Today Helen Thompson has a fascinating profile in New Scientist of Toronto medical physicist Kullervo Hynynen, who plans to test a theory he has about how to get cancer medicines out of the bloodstream and into targeted brain tumors.
His plan is to to use microbubbles in the blood – basically just really small bubbles of gas – to open up the layer between blood vessels and brain tissue.
First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain.
During the treatment, the patients will be monitored with fMRI brain imaging machines to see whether the drug has crossed the BBB, aided by the vibrating microbubbles.
The goal is just to get the drug to nine sites around the brain tumors.