The blood-brain barrier (BBB) has been a major hurdle for the treatment of various brain diseases. Endothelial cells, connected by tight junctions, form a physiological barrier preventing large molecules (>500 Da) from entering the brain tissue. Microbubble-mediated focused ultrasound (FUS) can be used to induce a transient local BBB opening, allowing larger drugs to enter the brain parenchyma. In addition to large-scale clinical devices for clinical translation, preclinical research for therapy response assessment of drug candidates requires dedicated small animal ultrasound setups for targeted BBB opening. Preferably, these systems allow high-throughput workflows with both high-spatial precision as well as integrated cavitation monitoring, while still being cost effective in both initial investment and running costs. Here, we present a bioluminescence and X-ray guided stereotactic small animal FUS system that is based on commercially available components and fulfills the aforementioned requirements. A particular emphasis has been placed on a high degree of automation facilitating the challenges typically encountered in high-volume preclinical drug evaluation studies. Examples of these challenges are the need for standardization in order to ensure data reproducibility, reduce intra-group variability, reduce sample size and thus comply with ethical requirements and decrease unnecessary workload. The proposed BBB system has been validated in the scope of BBB opening facilitated drug delivery trials on patient-derived xenograft models of glioblastoma multiforme and diffuse midline glioma.
- Blood-Brain Barrier/diagnostic imaging
- Disease Models, Animal
- Imaging, Three-Dimensional/methods