For the first time, investigators have non-invasively opened the blood-brain barrier using focused ultrasound, allowing high concentrations of chemotherapy to enter targeted tissues into a patient’s brain, according to a press release published by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.1

A team of researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences centre in Toronto, Canada, sought a more effective way of delivering therapies to brain tumors.

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Led by neurosurgeon Todd Mainprize, MD, they infused doxorubicin with tiny gas-filled bubbles into the patient’s bloodstream. Focused ultrasound was then applied to areas in the tumor and surrounding tissue, causing the bubbles to vibrate, which allowed high concentrations of doxorubicin into the targeted areas.

“The blood-brain barrier has been a persistent impediment to delivering valuable therapies to treat tumors, said Dr. Mainprize.

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“We are encouraged that we were able to open this barrier to delivery chemotherapy directly into the brain, and we look forward to more opportunities to apply this revolutionary approach.”

The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from harmful substances, but also impedes certain drugs from entering the brain in sufficient concentrations. Safely opening the barrier can aid in the treatment of a variety of brain neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.


  1. Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Blood-brain barrier opened non-invasively with focused ultrasound for the first time.  Blood-brain barrier opened non-invasively with focused ultrasound for the first time [press release]. Retrieved November 16, 2015.