Tags: Ultrasound | Helps | Drugs | Get | Into | Cells

Ultrasound Helps Drugs Get Into Cells

Wednesday, 06 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Ultrasound energy can briefly open a door into cells to let drugs and other compounds inside, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday in a study that could lead to improvements in medical care.

Ultrasound causes the violent collapse of bubbles, which in turn creates enough force to open holes in the outer membranes of cells, the team at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in Atlanta reported.

The holes, which close quickly, allow the entry of molecules as large as 50 nanometers in diameter - larger than most oral drugs, many proteins and similar in size to the DNA used in gene therapy, the researchers reported in the journal Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology.

"The bubbles oscillate in the ultrasound field and collapse, causing a shock wave to be released," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering who helped lead the government-funded study.

"Fluid movement associated with the resulting shock wave opens holes in the cell membranes, which allow molecules from the outside to enter."

Prausnitz noted that ultrasound is already widely used for imaging inside the body.

"You could give a chemotherapeutic drug locally or throughout the body, then focus the ultrasound only on areas where tumors exist," he said.

"That would increase the cell permeability and drug uptake only in the targeted cells and avoid affecting healthy cells elsewhere."

Prausnitz's team used scanning and transmission electron microscopes to look at what prostate cancer cells did under ultrasound bombardment.

"If we can properly design the impact that ultrasound makes on a cell, we can generate an impact that the cell can deal with," Prausnitz said.

"We want just enough impact to allow transport into the cell, but not so much of an impact that the cell would be stressed beyond its ability to repair the injury."

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WASHINGTON -- Ultrasound energy can briefly open a door into cells to let drugs and other compounds inside, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday in a study that could lead to improvements in medical care. Ultrasound causes the violent collapse of bubbles, which in turn...
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2006-00-06
Wednesday, 06 September 2006 12:00 AM
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