Team looks to microbubbles for cancer drug delivery

Ultrasound scanners often rely on tiny, gas-filled bubbles to sharpen the images they capture. But certain ultrasound signals are known to burst those bubbles. And now a cross-disciplinary team of researchers at Leeds University will explore whether the phenomenon can be put to use as a new drug delivery tool.

The investigators initially plan to load the bubbles up with tiny amounts of well known chemotherapy drugs to determine if they can nail down the kind of basic proof-of-concept data they need to demonstrate the promise of the delivery technology. Then they plan to widen their research horizon to include other drugs, including a novel drug now in development for colorectal cancer.

"A number of research teams are looking at possible uses for microbubbles, but with the breadth of expertise available at Leeds we're in a good position to make a breakthrough," Professor Stephen Evans tells The Engineer. "For the technique to be a viable clinical and commercial option, we not only need to find a reliable way to attach the drugs and antibodies, we also need to be able to manufacture the bubbles in sufficient numbers, of the right size and with consistent properties."

"The ultrasound wave makes the bubbles resonate, vibrate and finally burst. By changing how we code the electrical excitation signal, we can image and verify how many bubbles are at the site to ensure we administer the right drug dose before we burst them," says Professor Steven Freear. "This means we can use ultrasound, not only to detect and image the microbubbles but, critically, to rupture them, delivering the drug payload in a controlled way."

- here's the article from The Engineer