Microbubbles can deliver stroke drugs directly to brain

Friday, November 12, 2010

LONDON - Tiny bubbles of gas injected into the blood, can ease the passage of vital drugs to the brain and help protect it from the effects of a stroke.

Bubbles can even open up the blood-brain barrier, the protective blockade that regularly stops drugs from getting into the brain from the bloodstream.

Examples include the treatment of stroke, in which an interruption of the blood supply to the brain causes cells to become damaged or die.

Some years ago, scientists discovered that ‘microbubbles’ of air in the blood made ultrasound images clearer and brighter, reports the Daily Mail.

Now, researchers from the University of Cinncinnati, Ohio, US, filled microbubbles with xenon, a gas known to protect brain cells from dying and improve blood flow, but difficult to administer.

Rats treated with xenon-filled bubbles had smaller areas of brain damage than untreated animals, according to a university statement.

In another piece of research, bubbles filled with a drug used to break down clots, were used to treat people who had had strokes.

The technique eased the passage of the drug to the brain, speeding up the restoration of the blood flow to the brain.

But two of the patients given the highest dosage of the ‘bubble drug’ in combination with ultrasound started haemorrhaging and died.

Vibrating bubbles may even help break down tumours and kidney stones, scientists believe.

Filed under: Medicine, World

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