Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Microbubbles for targeted ultrasonic contrast imaging and cancer diagnosis

Technology #m11-002

Ultrasound has been established as a practical and safe method of finding, diagnosing and monitoring tumors during a treatment regimen. However, ultrasound alone is not adequate in monitoring tumor treatment. While size and shape are important criteria in evaluating the stage and type of tumor, vasculature growth can provide a significantly better picture of the stage of cancer and the likelihood of malignancy. To accurately image vasculature, contrast agents are required to provide clear and detailed ultrasound imaging. This technology utilizes microbubbles as a method for diagnosing and assessing the progression of cancer therapy. The microbubbles in this technology can be coordinated with ligands to actively target surface proteins present in cancer-signaled angiogenesis, producing a clear image of the vasculature in a tumor mass.

Lipid microbubble formulation enhances in vivo detectability contrast and rapid assessment of treatment impact

By size-selecting microbubbles that are more sensitive contrast agents (4-10 microns in diameter), this technology enhances the sensitivity of ultrasound detection. The increased sensitivity could provide an earlier assessment of how effective a specific cancer treatment. This is further indicated in prelimnary studies where the technology was able to demonstrate efficacy of a specific cancer treatment as early as 3 days after implementation. In addition, desired ligands can be conjugated to the microbubbles to allow for targeted specificity during the imaging. Thus, this technology could potentially allow for treatments to be evaluated faster and allow doctors to change regimens early if a current treatment does not show results.

Lead Inventor:

Mark Borden, Ph.D.


  • Ultrasonic vascular contrast imaging of cancerous tumors.
  • Facilitation of studies of drug therapies to confirm efficacy of therapy for a patient.
  • Could be modified as a novel drug delivery system.


  • Size-selected microbubbles provides greater sensitivity as a ultrasound contract material
  • Rapid evaluation of cancer therapy efficacy

Patent information:

Patent Pending (WO/2012/019146)

Licensing Status:

Available for licensing and sponsored research support

Tech Ventures Reference: IR M11-002

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