Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Localized, non-invasive drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier via focused ultrasound and microbubbles

Technology #2636

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Elisa Konofagou
Managed By
Satish Rao
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending 20160346526
US Patent 9,358,023

The brain is shielded by a unique vascular system known as the blood-brain barrier (BBB). While the BBB serves as a defense system to guard the brain from toxins, it also represents a major obstruction to neurological drug delivery for therapeutic applications. The inability of many bioactive molecules to cross the BBB and enter the brain encumbers large-scale screening for new drug candidates and also restricts available treatments for patients with neurological disorders. This technology makes use of focused ultrasound (FUS) and microbubble technologies to achieve localized, efficient, and non-invasive delivery of therapeutics through the BBB and into the brain. Furthermore, the improved pulse sequence elucidated by this technology enables the augmentation of multiple drug delivery parameters for enhanced BBB penetration and diverse therapeutic applications.

Optimized pulse sequence enables broadened range of drug delivery parameters, thereby expanding clinical applications of technique

Focused ultrasound (FUS) and microbubbles have been shown to noninvasively and locally deliver large molecules through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and brain cancer. Most studies to date have assumed that long pulse lengths (PLs) were necessary for BBB opening, thus restricting the range of modifiable parameters that can improve delivery characteristics. This technology, in contrast, shows the short PLs can open the BBB through the use of a unique burst sequence. This distinct pulse sequence enhances the spatial distribution, concentration, and consistency of drug delivery using focused ultrasound and microbubbles.

This technique has been tested and shown to be efficacious using in vivo models.

Lead Inventor:

Elisa Konofagou, Ph.D..


  • Non-invasive administration of drugs that are delivered via trans-cranial surgery
  • Expanding the scope of potential neurological therapeutic small molecules
  • Specific drug targeting of neurological disorders with known, focal pathologies
  • Cost-effective, quick treatment for a variety of neurological maladies


  • Minimally invasive technique
  • Safer and more expedient than cranial surgical procedures
  • Non-toxic method of BBB penetration
  • Allows for highly localized procedure to access specific regions of the brain
  • Cost-effective technology
  • Extension of FDA approved techniques (MRI, ultrasound, and microbubbles)
  • Consistently efficacious for drug delivery into the brain

Patent information:

Patent Issued (WO/2007/035721)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR 2781, IR 2636

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