Microbubbles which can deliver a targeted therapeutic payload have been developed.
The microbubbles are built from a fluorocarbon gas core which is surrounded with a lipid shell to which antibodies can be attached to provide specificity for the target site, as well as vesicles containing the drug of interest. Microbubbles have previously been used to enhance ultrasound image resolution; this allows the bubbles to be tracked to the site of interest, where a specific pulse can burst the bubbles to release the drug.
A microfluidic approach to generating the microbubbles has been developed at Leeds which has enabled a therapeutic dose of uniform, 1 µm diameter bubbles to be produced within a few minutes. Recent developments include the in vivo delivery of an anti-cancer drug; the development of a microbubble containing an oil-layer to allow delivery of hydrophobic agents; the production of a prototype instrument to generate drug-containing targeted microbubbles for clinician trials.