Medical Breakthrough: Brain Tumor Breached with Ultrasound
Doctors at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto have recently made a major medical breakthrough: using ultrasound waves they have successful delivered chemotherapy deep into the brain tumor of a cancer patient.
The reason that this is such a breakthrough is because of the blood-brain barrier, which normally blocks drugs from entering the brain, protecting it against infection. This barrier makes it very difficult to treat brain diseases like tumors and other mental illnesses and diseases…until now.
The two and a half hour procedure, led by neurosurgeon Dr. Todd Mainprize, used bursts from 1,024 ultrasound beams to create waves and tiny, heated bubbles that pushed open gaps in the blood vessels, allowing the chemotherapy drug to enter into the patient’s brain. The microscopic bubbles were previously injected into the patient’s vein, along with the chemotherapy drug and a tracing molecule. An MRI scanner confirmed the trace of the path of the drug, and that it had successfully made it past the brain’s barrier.
Four days after the ultrasound procedure, the patient, Bonny Hall, had the tumor removed from her brain, and is now recovering well. Bonny is one of nine patients in the trial to receive the ground-breaking treatment, which is being funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
The successful procedure is a huge achievement in the world of medicine and ultrasound, and will open up a new realm of treatments past the blood-brain barrier.