July 14, 2022

Focused Ultrasound to Open the Blood-Brain Barrier in Recurrent Glioblastoma (Podcast)

The rationale and promise of a new method to enable chemotherapy delivery

Glioblastoma is notorious for being therapeutically elusive. One key challenge is getting chemotherapies past the blood-brain barrier to target glioblastoma’s highly infiltrative tumors.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

“Some of the drugs that work very well against cancers outside the brain just can’t get into the brain,” says Glen Stevens, DO, PhD, Section Head of Adult Neuro-Oncology at Cleveland Clinic. “We realized we needed to look at ways to allow us to deliver chemotherapies into the brain.”

A leading candidate is the use of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) to open the blood-brain barrier for this purpose. That application of LIFU is the focus of a newly completed phase 1 study that Dr. Stevens is helping to lead — and also the focus of the latest episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Cancer Advances podcast, which features Dr. Stevens as its guest expert.

In the podcast, Dr. Stevens explores the following:

  • The essentials of glioblastoma and why it is so difficult to treat
  • How LIFU works and the rationale for its use to disrupt the blood-brain barrier
  • The phase 1 trial studying LIFU to enable delivery of carboplatin to the brains of adults with recurrent glioblastoma
  • Next steps in the research of LIFU for glioblastoma therapy

Click the podcast player above to listen to the 29-minute episode now, or read on for a short edited excerpt.

Excerpt from the episode

Dr. Stevens: We are going to be starting a new trial in glioblastoma patients where we will be using something called 5-ALA, or 5-aminolevulinic acid. It’s a drug that’s used in neurosurgery to light up glioblastoma — it’s taken into the tumor and you can fluoresce it so you can see where it is. You can use photodynamic therapy to affect the oxygenation and kill cells; it’s used in dermatology.

There is some preliminary data looking at using it with sonication, taking this 5-ALA and then, through sonication, using it to kill glioblastoma cells. We have just gotten IRB approval and hope to put our first patient in the trial very soon.


Related Articles

Physician with patient
February 21, 2024
Strategies for Improving Clinical Trial Equity

Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute takes multi-faceted approach to increasing clinical trial access

How antibody drug conjugates work
February 13, 2024
Real-World Use of Trastuzumab Deruxtecan

Key learnings from DESTINY trials

February 7, 2024
Advances in Bone Marrow Transplant Have Improved Outcomes in Fanconi Anemia

Overall survival in patients treated since 2008 is nearly 20% higher than in earlier patients

February 5, 2024
Haploidentical Bone Marrow Transplant Has Durable Engraftment in Patients With Sickle Cell Disease

Two-year event-free survival comparable to matched sibling donor myeloablative transplant

February 1, 2024
Possibilities of CRISPR Technology (Podcast)

Gene editing technology offers promise for treating multiple myeloma and other hematologic malignancies, as well as solid tumors

January 30, 2024
Gene Therapy Trials Show Positive Results in Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia

First-in-human trials of CRISPR-Cas12a gene editing demonstrate safety and meaningful event-free survival

photo of Elekta Esprit Gamma Knife machine
January 26, 2024
The Evolution of Gamma Knife Technology (Podcast)

Improvements enable targeting of brain tumors with single-session, fractionated or neoadjuvant approaches

Disparities in multiple myeloma
January 25, 2024
Major Study Identifies Global Disparities in Drug Toxicity for Multiple Myeloma Treatment

Study of 401,576 patients reveals differences in cancer burdens as well as overall survival