Bubble technology for Drug Delivery

Dr Eleanor Stride, University Lecturer at the Department’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, describes how the bubble technology she is developing can be used to diagnose, treat and prevent illnesses such as stroke and cancer. Many more potential uses are in the pipeline, including for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and depression.

Eleanor Stride bubble researchDr Stride’s research focuses on bubbles of a few 1000ths of a millimetre that are injected into the bloodstream to increase the strength of the echoes from blood vessels. Clinicians use these bubbles to map the flow of blood in a particular region, using ultrasound imaging, in order to identify a range of diseases.

The bubbles are coated with biocompatible shells that can also be loaded with drugs. By focusing the ultrasound, the bubble can be popped open to unload the drug in the area it is needed. This means fewer side-effects because the drug is focused to a specific target. Although doctors have used so-called micro-bubbles for some time to produce clearer images in body scans, only now is their full potential being realised.

Dr Stride and her team work on new methods for manufacturing microbubbles to control the amount of drug that can be loaded into them and how they respond to ultrasound. In a recent paper they have shown that the materials and methods used to make the bubbles are critical to their performance. Dr Eleanor Stride said: “Micro-bubbles have enormous potential. Their use in the diagnosis and monitoring of heart conditions and in detection of cancer is increasing rapidly”.

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