Ultrasound may unlock gates of drug delivery

December 1, 2006

Ultrasound could one day play a key role in drug delivery, if researchers can harness the ultrasound beam's cavitation effect, which allows drugs to pass through the protective membranes of cells.

Ultrasound could one day play a key role in drug delivery, if researchers can harness the ultrasound beam's cavitation effect, which allows drugs to pass through the protective membranes of cells.

Mark R. Prausnitz, Ph.D., of Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering experimented with living prostate cancer and animal cells. He confirmed that the powerful cavitation effect produces enough force to stimulate cell membrane permeability. The holes close down quickly but allow the entry of therapeutic molecules that are 50 nm in diameter, larger than most compounds used for gene therapy (J Ultras Med Bio 2006:32[6]915-924).

The procedure could find future use in systemic therapy in oncology, particularly for large-molecule drugs that cannot easily move through cell membranes.