Zurich - A technology recently developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich to guide tiny gas bubbles through blood vessels using ultrasound also works in the brain. In future, the technique could be used to transport drugs to precise locations.

A team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), the University of Zurich (UZH) and University Hospital Zurich (USZ) has demonstrated that a technology developed in the ETH laboratory also works in the brain. According to a statement from the university, microbubbles filled with gas, known as vesicles, were able to navigate not only through the blood vessels in the body, but also through the blood vessels in the brains of mice using ultrasound.

For imaging, the researchers used two-photon microscopy, but one day they would like to use ultrasound. They intend to continue developing ultrasound technology for this purpose.

If in the next step the researchers succeed in attaching drugs to the outer skin of these small, soft vesicles – as well as extend the feasibility to humans – the technology could open up targeted therapies with significantly fewer side effects. According to the ETH, there are promising medical applications, in the brain in particular, from cancer to strokes and mental illness.

“Since these bubbles, or vesicles, are already approved for use in humans, it’s likely that our technology will be approved and used in treatments for humans more quickly than other types of microvehicles currently in development,” explained Daniel Ahmed, Professor of Acoustic Robotics at the ETH und study supervisor. Ahmed’s group has been researching this technology for several years. In 2019, the scientist, who specializes in micro- and nanorobotics for medicine, received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council. ce/mm

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