Thinh Le, University of Connecticut
Late News: Biodegradable Piezoelectric Ultrasonic Transducer for Brain Drug Delivery
Written by Arun Kumar
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) plays a significant part in maintaining the central nervous system homeostasis. The BBB comprises tight junctions between the endothelial cells in the blood vessels of the brain. It restricts any biomolecule, including the delivery of drugs from effectively reaching the brain tissue to treat diseases.
Recent advances such as ultrasound and acoustic waves have shown promise in opening the BBB to allow therapeutics to access the brain tissue in preclinical models. But current external ultrasound systems are less effective in penetrating beyond the human skull to reach the BBB while internal ultrasound transducer systems like piezoelectric materials are toxic and non-degradable. To tackle this, Thinh Le’s group presents an ultrasonic transducer made from biodegradable and biocompatible, electrospun poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) nanofibers which when implanted onto the skull, can disrupt BBB and deliver drugs into the brain.
Their team has demonstrated the biocompatibility of piezoelectric PLLA nanofiber device by implanting them into the brain tissue of mice. They were also able to observe the delivery of dextran across the BBB in the device-implanted mice. In terms of safety concerns, Thinh Le says that the PLLA material is biodegradable, and there would be no need for follow-up surgery to remove the nanofiber implant. The advent of piezoelectric nanofibers represents a highly controllable, efficient biomaterial that is essentially critical for directing accessible drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier.