Canadian Doctor Becomes First to Break Blood-Brain Tumor Barrier

Canadian Doctor Becomes First to Break Blood-Brain Tumor Barrier

The blood-brain barrier has been broken for the first time in history.

Dr. Todd Mainprize, who works at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, is the first person worldwide to successfully break this barrier. The implications are massive, as this breakthrough paves the way for revolutionary new treatments for brain cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, stroke, Parkinson’s, and more.

The procedure took place this week, successfully treating Bonny Hall’s brain tumor. Dr. Mainprize and his team non-invasively delivered medication deep into the brain via microbubbles, focusing ultrasound to force cancer medication through the blood-brain barrier.

It’s a bit confusing, so to break it down:

  • The patient is dosed in medication.
  • Then, harmless microbubbles are injected into the bloodstream.
  • Next, a high-intensity ultrasound beam is directed at the tumor, causing the microbubbles to vibrate.
  • This gently tears the proteins around the capillary (blood vessels) walls, allowing the medication to painlessly and harmlessly enter the brain tissue.

Dr. Mainprize likens the blood-brain barrier to Saran wrap that coats the blood vessels in the brain; an extremely-selective filter designed to protect the brain and keep toxins out. Unfortunately, that’s helped keep useful medications out, too.

Until now, getting this medication through the barrier subtly was impossible.

“It will revolutionize the way we treat brain disease completely. It will give hope to patients who have no hope,” said Sunnybrook Director of Physical Sciences Dr. Kullervo Hynynen.

Hynynen also noted that about 98 percent of the substances that could potentially be used to treat brain conditions were, until now, unusable as they could not penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

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