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Canadian Doctor At Sunnybrook In Toronto First In World To Break Blood-Brain Barrier To Successfully Treat Brain Tumor

Stashed in: Awesome, Medicine, Depression, Alzheimer's, Cancer, Neuroscience, Medical, Stroke

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The blood-brain barrier has been broken for the first time in history. Doctor Todd Mainprize, of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, and in concert with other neuroscientists, has successfully broken the blood-brain barrier, opening the way for revolutionary new treatments for brain cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, stroke, Parkinson’s, and more.

The procedure, which took place earlier in the week according to CTV News, was used to successfully treat Bonny Hall’s brain tumor by non-invasively delivering medication deep into the brain using microbubbles and focused ultrasound to force cancer medication through the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Mainprize discussed the revolutionary treatment with CTV.

“Frankly speaking, our ability to treat this type of tumour, glioma, is not so good. […] Between 1940 and 2005, there has been very little progress in improving the outcome of these patients.”

“It went exactly as hoped.”

The treatment involves first dosing the patient with medication. Afterward, harmless microbubbles are injected into the bloodstream, and a high-intensity ultrasound beam is directed at the tumor, causing the microbubbles to vibrate. This gently tears the proteins around the capillary walls, allowing the medication to painlessly and harmlessly enter the brain tissue, something that has been impossible to achieve up to this point.

Hall’s tumor was what is known as a glioma, a type of tumor that is difficult for doctors to treat through surgery due to its tendency to spread out in a web. Attempting to remove all of a glioma from a patient’s brain surgically is almost invariably fatal. Patients with glioblastomas (stage four gliomas) survive an average of one year, and almost never survive beyond three with conventional treatment. Doctors can use chemotherapy to treat the remaining parts of the tumor, but at best, 25 percent of the chemotherapy drugs reach the brain due to the blood-brain barrier. Chemotherapy has to be very carefully administered, as the drugs can be fatal themselves in greater doses; it’s not simply a matter of increasing the treatment.

Top Reddit comment explains what's new:

First safety and efficacy attempt of this medical procedure in a human patient, to my knowledge. Previously a lot of work in rodents, some in non-human primates.

The intent here is testing 'focused-ultrasound' to damage the blood brain barrier only in-and-around brain tumors so the now damaged blood vessels near and within the tumor leak the cancer drugs being systemically-delivered to the patient.

Any brain surgery or substantial brain injury will 'break the blood brain barrier' around blood vessels, but the idea here is instead of cutting into the brain tissue to excise the tumor, they utilized ultrasound and small bubbles to heat up and damage vasculature and blood-brain-barrier within glioma located in superficial brain tissue, without cutting into and attempting to excise the sticky glioma.

One danger of this experimental procedure is that we don't know enough about the normal functioning of the BBB and the immune system,... immune cells typically excluded from the brain can leak into it, and damage sensitive cells. Because the alternative is excision of the 'sticky' glioma/tumor, which is a medical procedure that also damages the BBB and can have significant complications, they were given approval to attempt this procedure.

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