Malignant glioma is a severe primary CNS cancer with a high recurrence and mortality rate. The current strategy of surgical debulking combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy does not provide good prognosis, tumor progression control, or improved patient survival. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) acts as a major obstacle to chemotherapeutic treatment of brain tumors by severely restricting drug delivery into the brain. Because of their high toxicity, chemotherapeutic drugs cannot be administered at sufficient concentrations by conventional delivery methods to significantly improve long-term survival of patients with brain tumors. Temporal disruption of the BBB by microbubble-enhanced focused ultrasound (FUS) exposure can increase CNS-blood permeability, providing a promising new direction to increase the concentration of therapeutic agents in the brain tumor and improve disease control. Under the guidance and monitoring of MR imaging, a brain drug-delivery platform can be developed to control and monitor therapeutic agent distribution and kinetics. The success of FUS BBB disruption in delivering a variety of therapeutic molecules into brain tumors has recently been demonstrated in an animal model. In this paper the authors review a number of critical studies that have demonstrated successful outcomes, including enhancement of the delivery of traditional clinically used chemotherapeutic agents or application of novel nanocarrier designs for actively transporting drugs or extending drug half-lives to significantly improve treatment efficacy in preclinical animal models.
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