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SonoDrugs project: image-guided localized drug delivery


The drug delivery technology being developed in the SonoDrugs project will utilize drug-loaded particles, typically between 100 nm and 2000 nm in diameter that are designed to carry drugs to the site of disease via the bloodstream. It is known that at these very small diameters the particles are easily transported by normal blood flow through the finest capillaries in the vascular system and can therefore penetrate deep into diseased tissues. The drug payload will be inside the particles or attached to the shell.

Arrival of the particles at the disease site is detected using the real-time medical imaging techniques Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or ultrasound. The drug is then locally released from the particles by subjecting them to focused ultrasound pulses. For this purpose, the SonoDrugs project will aim to develop two different types of particle.

One type of particle is explained below. The particle will be up to 4 µm in diameter and will have a shell that ruptures due to pressure-induced stresses generated by the focused ultrasound pulses. Often referred to as microbubbles, gas-filled particles of this type are already used as a contrast agent for ultrasound imaging. Philips Research has actively been investigating their use as a drug delivery mechanism for several years.
 
 
 
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Ultrasound imaging technology is already used to image what is going on inside the patient. Scientists at Philips Research are developing a localized drug delivery system based on ultrasound and microbubbles that are partially filled with cancer drugs.

Photo: Philips


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The microbubbles are tiny gas-filled spheres of biodegradable material no bigger than red blood cells. These are to be injected into the patient’s bloodstream and carried to the site of a tumor. The arrival of the microbubbles at the tumor can be monitored with ultrasound imaging.

Photo: Philips


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Upon arrival of the microbubbles in the tumor, they will then be ruptured with a focused ultrasound pulse to release the drugs.

Photo: Philips


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As the drugs are only released at the site of the tumor, it is hoped that this will increase the therapeutic efficacy. In addition, the patient’s total body exposure to them could be limited, which for certain types of cancer could help to reduce the unpleasant side effects of the therapy.

Photo: Philips


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A scientist at Philips Research is researching the synthesis of drug-loaded microbubbles using ink-jet printing technology.

Photo: Philips
Preparation of micro-bubbles

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