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Noninvasive Ultrasound Pulses Used to Precisely Tweak Rat Brain Activity

January 23, 2017

When drug-laden nanoparticles (left) absorb energy from ultrasound waves, their liquid center (green) turns to gas and expands the particles (right), loosening their exterior and releasing the drug (blue). Credit: Raag Airan

Jordan Green, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and his colleagues have figured out a noninvasive way to release and deliver concentrated amounts of a drug to the brain of rats in a temporary, localized manner using ultrasound.

The drug is “caged” inside tiny, biodegradable “nanoparticles” and released through targeted sound waves, such as those used to painlessly create images of internal organs.

The researchers say this method has the potential to improve many therapies and research studies since most psychoactive drugs could be delivered this way.

“If further testing of our combination method works in humans, it will not only give us a way to direct medications to specific areas of the brain, but will also let us learn a lot more about the function of each brain area,” says Green.

Read more about this study in the Johns Hopkins Medicine press release.