Bubbles in blood open the brain for world-first cancer treatment

By Clare Wilson

MRI images

Arrows on MRI images show tumours before the treatment (left) and after (right)

SUNNYBROOK HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE

Doctors have shown that it is possible to safely deliver medicines directly to a person’s brain, in a world-first cancer treatment that involves breaching the “blood-brain barrier”.

The method involves temporarily making blood vessels in a certain brain region more porous, to let a drug flow out of the bloodstream and reach tumour cells.

Four women with breast cancer that had spread to the brain have had their tumours shrunk by a drug called Herceptin using this method. …

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