July 22, 2016 – Blood Brain Barrier


Anchor lead:  Could a new technique help deliver therapies to the brain? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Our brains are protected from the rest of our circulation by something called the blood brain barrier, but this elegant system keeps therapies from crossing into the brain also.  Now a new technique uses both ultrasound and tiny bubbles to disrupt the barrier in very small areas to allow drug passage.  Jon Weingart, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, describes the technique.

Weingart: They used microbubbles in the circulation.  Those microbubbles when the sound waves hit them start to vibrate, which then adds to the disruption of the blood brain barrier. And so this particular study looked at an approach in people where they placed the little ultrasound transducer into the skull, and then they were able to deliver the ultrasound waves without opening the skin. The skull in a human is too thick to deliver the ultrasound just through the skin.  :30

Weingart says he’s hopeful that when the study is expanded the technique will prove helpful in treating brain tumors.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.