PBCA-based polymeric microbubbles for molecular imaging and drug delivery
Microbubbles (MB) are routinely used as contrast agents for ultrasound (US) imaging. We describe different types of targeted and drug-loaded poly(n-butyl cyanoacrylate) (PBCA) MB, and demonstrate their suitability for multiple biomedical applications, including molecular US imaging and US-mediated drug delivery. Molecular imaging of angiogenic tumor blood vessels and inflamed atherosclerotic endothelium is performed by modifying the surface of PBCA MB with peptides and antibodies recognizing E-selectin and VCAM-1. Stable and inertial cavitation of PBCA MB enables sonoporation and permeabilization of blood vessels in tumors and in the brain, which can be employed for direct and indirect drug delivery. Direct drug delivery is based on US-induced release of (model) drug molecules from the MB shell. Indirect drug delivery refers to US- and MB-mediated enhancement of extravasation and penetration of co-administered drugs and drug delivery systems. These findings are in line with recently reported pioneering proof-of-principle studies showing the usefulness of (phospholipid) MB for molecular US imaging and sonoporation-enhanced drug delivery in patients. They aim to exemplify the potential and the broad applicability of combining MB with US to improve disease diagnosis and therapy.