Brain barrier opened for first time to treat cancer

For the first time, doctors have opened and closed the brain’s protector – the blood-brain barrier – on demand. The breakthrough will allow drugs to reach diseased areas of the brain that are otherwise out of bounds. Ultimately, it could make it easier to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s and brain cancer.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a sheath of cells that wraps around blood vessels (in black) throughout the brain. It protects precious brain tissue from toxins in the bloodstream, but it is a major obstacle for treating brain disorders because it also blocks the passage of drugs.

Several teams have opened the barrier in animals to sneak drugs through. Now Michael Canney at Paris-based medical start-up CarThera, and his colleagues have managed it in people using an ultrasound brain implant and an injection of microbubbles.

When ultrasound waves meet microbubbles in the blood, they make the bubbles vibrate. This pushes apart the cells of the BBB.

With surgeon Alexandre Carpentier at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, Canney tested the approach in people with a recurrence of glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumour. People with this cancer have surgery to remove the tumours and then chemotherapy drugs, such as Carboplatin, are used to try to kill any remaining tumour cells. Tumours make the BBB leaky, allowing in a tiny amount of chemo drugs: if more could get through, their impact would be greater, says Canney.

The team tested the idea on four patients by implanting an ultrasound transducer through a hole already made in their skulls during tumour-removal surgery. They were then given an injection of microbubbles and had the transducer switched on for 2 minutes. This sent low-intensity pulses of ultrasound into a region of the brain just 10 millimetres by 4 mm. Canney reckons this makes the BBB in this region more permeable for about 6 hours. In this time window, each person received normal chemotherapy.

Source: www.newscientist.com

What an amazing advance! This could open doors for all sorts of things. However, there is so much about the functioning of the brain that we don’t understand, that we will need to watch the long term effects carefully.

See on Scoop.itNimming recommends…

Eschools14: Games in learning

This is my first attempt to post from email, so I’m not sure what the format will be like. The text is interspersed with images, but I suspect the images will wind up out of place….

These are my notes for the session on games in learning, presented by Peter de Lilse and Janet Thomson.

  • What games did you play as a child?
  • What did you learn through them?
  • Are all games competitive? Fun? Easy? About winning and losing?
  • What is real learning?
  • How can games promote that?

Games: do’s and don’ts

Hint Hunt

Wuzzit Trouble

  • What games have you tried? For yourself? In class?
    • Mine craft – running a town, construction
    • Candy crush – perseverance

Why games?

Other benefits?

Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.

Plickers

Have you heard of Plickers? This is a new app that works on all platforms, which is a clicker without a clicker. You download a set of A6 cards which have unique shapes on them. The orientation of the card corresponds to a multiple choice letter (A-D, or however many you want to add). You open the app, point your device at them and it records the answers – if you have a class set up, it keeps a record of the answer against each child. You can create questions on the fly, or prepare them in advance. Definitely worth checking out! This is the low tech high tech solution to exit polls.