Philips develops ultrasound-activated microbubbles for localized delivery of cancer drugs

September 30, 2008
Scientists at Philips Research are developing a localized drug delivery system based on ultrasound and microbubbles that are partially filled with cancer drugs.

( -- Philips is developing an ultrasound-based drug delivery technology that is designed to increase the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment for certain types of cancer.

The system proposes the use of drug-loaded microbubbles, no larger than red blood cells, that can be injected into the patient’s bloodstream, tracked via ultrasound imaging, and then ruptured by a focused ultrasound pulse to release their drug payload when they reach the desired spot.

Because the drugs would only be released at the site of the diseased tissue, the patient’s total body exposure to them could be limited. For certain types of treatment – for example, chemotherapy for breast cancer – this could help to reduce unpleasant side effects.

The use of microbubbles in conjunction with medical ultrasound imaging is not new. However, at the moment in clinical practice, microbubbles are only used as contrast agents for example to highlight blood in the ultrasound images – an application that relies on the fact that microbubbles reflect ultrasound much better than blood or soft tissue.

The drug delivery technology being developed by scientists at Philips Research continues to utilize the contrast-enhancing capabilities of microbubbles to help ultrasound operators to locate tumors – based on their density and the fact that tumors typically grow a recognizable network of small blood vessels around themselves. What’s new is that it then shatters the shells of the microbubbles in these blood vessels using a focused high-energy ultrasound pulse. As a result, the drugs contained in the microbubbles are released directly inside the tumor.

Philips is working with several academic partners, including the University of Virginia (USA) and the University of Muenster (Germany), to refine the technology. Clinical institutions, such as The Methodist Hospital in Houston (USA), are also actively researching this new and exciting field of ultrasound mediated drug delivery.

“More and more, patients are demanding treatment options that allow them to maintain their quality of life during the treatment regime, without sacrificing treatment efficacy,” comments King Li, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiology at the Methodist Hospital in Houston (USA) and Professor of Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College (USA). ”The non-invasive nature of ultrasound mediated delivery is a step in this direction. Work at our and other institutions using ultrasound for drug delivery and treatment guidance has shown the potential of this technology in pre-clinical studies.”

Provided by Philips

Explore further: Have your drug nano-delivered via microbubble

Related Stories

Have your drug nano-delivered via microbubble

October 12, 2015

"Colloidal delivery system" and "nanoparticle" are probably not terms you find yourself using in day-to-day interactions, but for UC's Yoonjee Park, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science biomedical ...

Clot-dissolving bubbles to treat strokes?

September 25, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers are using computer simulations to investigate how ultrasound and tiny bubbles injected into the bloodstream might break up blood clots, limiting the damage caused by a stroke in its first hours.

Sensitive ultrasound to spot early-stage cancer

October 23, 2008

( -- European researchers have developed highly sensitive ultrasound equipment that can detect tiny quantities of reflective microbubbles engineered to stick to specific tumour cells. The technique should pick ...

Microbubble ultrasound and breast biopsies

February 1, 2011

Using "microbubbles" and ultrasound can mean more targeted breast biopsies for patients with early breast cancer, helping to determine treatment and possibly saving those patients from undergoing a second breast cancer surgery, ...

Bursting bubbles with sound offers new treatments for cancer

June 28, 2010

A new way to deliver cancer drugs using gas bubbles and sound waves is to be developed at the University of Leeds. The project will enable highly toxic drugs to be delivered in small doses directly to tumours, where their ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.