Researchers at the University of Connecticut made an implantable ultrasound, which can assist in opening the blood-brain barrier. It will allow the entrance of chemotherapy and treat cancer of the brain. Moreover, unlike other ultrasound systems, this one can be implanted into the brain directly. In addition, it does not require follow-up surgery either to remove the device in the future because it degenerates on its own with time.
How is the Implantable Ultrasound Created?
The implant consists of amino acid glycine crystals, shown to be strongly piezoelectric, which means that it vibrates after an electrical current passes through it.
The researchers combined this with biodegradable polymers to create the ultrasound implant, as seen in the image above.
The general procedure is the removal of the brain tumour after identification, followed by chemotherapy to remove the residual cells if any. However, chemotherapy is very difficult. Moreover, the blood-brain barrier prevents the entry of common chemotherapy drugs.
Creating a transient gap in the barrier is one method to trespass the blood-brain barrier, allowing the drugs to enter. However, even this is a very difficult procedure, requiring very powerful ultrasound devices to be placed on the head for at least six hours. This is a significant limitation for availing ultrasound-enhanced chemotherapy.
Implanted Ultrasound Transmitters
Ultrasounds that can be implanted have been developed but the drawback is that they are made of ceramic and require another surgery to remove them. To combat this, researchers have made a biodegradable ultrasound implant. Moreover, it also has the same power and efficacy as ceramic devices.
Thanh Nguyen, a researcher in the study said,
The new device is made with piezoelectric glycine crystals. The crystals biodegrade on their own and are very brittle. Therefore, the researchers combined them through an electrospinning process with a biodegradable polymer. It is called polycaprolactone and Ploy-LLactide. The life of the ultrasound emitter within the brain is extended through these polymers.
Researchers tested this implantable ultrasound on mice in combination with chemo. It doubled the survival of the mice in comparison with untreated mice.