Leveraging the power of ultrasound for therapeutic design and optimization

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Contrast agent-enhanced ultrasound can facilitate personalized therapeutic strategies by providing the technology to measure local blood flow rate, to selectively image receptors on the vascular endothelium, and to enhance localized drug delivery. Ultrasound contrast agents are micron-diameter encapsulated bubbles that circulate within the vascular compartment and can be selectively imaged with ultrasound. Microbubble transport-based estimates of local blood flow can quantify changes resulting from anti-angiogenic therapies and facilitate differentiation of angiogenic mechanisms. Microbubbles that are conjugated with targeting ligands attach to endothelial surface receptors that are upregulated in disease, providing high signal-to-noise ratio images of pathological vasculature. In addition to imaging applications, microbubbles can be used to enhance localized gene and drug delivery, either by changing membrane and vascular permeability or by carrying and locally releasing cargo. Our goal in this review is to provide an overview of the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound methodologies in the design and evaluation of therapeutic strategies with emphases on quantitative blood flow mapping, molecular imaging, and enhanced drug delivery.Graphical abstract

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