Theses Doctoral

Focused Ultrasound Mediated Blood-Brain Barrier Opening in Non-Human Primates: Safety, Efficacy and Drug Delivery

Downs, Matthew

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is physiologically essential for brain homeostasis. While it protects the brain from noxious agents, it prevents almost all currently available drugs from crossing to the parenchyma. This greatly hinders drug delivery for the treatment of neurological diseases and disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s, as well as the development of drugs for the treatment of such diseases. Current drug delivery techniques to the brain are either invasive and target specific, or non-invasive with low special specificity. Neither group of techniques are optimal for long term treatment of patients with neurological diseases or disorders. Focused ultrasound coupled with intravenous administration of microbubbles (FUS) has been proven as an effective technique to selectively and noninvasively open the BBB in multiple in vivo models including non-human primates (NHP). Although this technique has promising potential for clinical outpatient procedures, as well as a powerful tool in the lab, the safety and potential neurological effects of this technique need to be further investigated. This thesis focuses on validating the safety and efficacy of using the FUS technique to open the BBB in NHP as well as the ability of the technique to facility drug delivery. First, a longitudinal study of repeatedly applying the FUS technique targeting the basal ganglia region in four NHP was conducted to determine any potential long-term adverse side effects over a duration of 4-20 months. The safety of the technique was evaluated using both MRI as well as behavioral testing. Results demonstrated that repeated application of the FUS technique to the basal ganglia in NHP did not generate permanent side effects, nor did it induce a permanent opening of the BBB in the targeted region. The second study investigated the potential of the FUS technique as a method to deliver drugs, such as a low dose of haloperidol, to the basal ganglia in NHP and mice to elicit pharmacodynamical effects on responses to behavioral tasks. After opening the BBB in the basal ganglia of mice and NHP, a low dose of haloperidol was successfully delivered generating significant changes in their baseline motor responses to behavioral tasks. Domperidone was also successfully delivered to the caudate of NHP after opening the BBB and induced transient hemilateral neglect. In the final section of this thesis, the safety and efficacy of the FUS technique was evaluated in fully alert NHP. The FUS technique was successful in generating BBB opening volumes larger on average to that of the BBB opening volumes in anesthetized experiments. Safety results through MRI verification as well as behavioral testing during application of the technique demonstrated that the FUS technique did not generate adverse neurological effects. Conversely, the FUS technique was found to induce slight positive effects on the response of the NHP to the behavioral task. Collectively, the work presented in this thesis demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of the FUS technique to open the BBB and deliver neuroactive drugs in the NHP.


  • thumnail for Downs_columbia_0054D_12868.pdf Downs_columbia_0054D_12868.pdf binary/octet-stream 4.31 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biomedical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Konofagou, Elisa E.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 11, 2015