One of the major roadblocks in treating diseases affecting the brain lies in delivering drugs across the blood-brain barrier. From nanoparticles to neurotropic viruses and exosomes to shark antibodies, scientists and engineers develop new strategies to bring effective therapeutics into this immunologically privileged space. In this seminar, experts will discuss interventions that target the blood-brain barrier to facilitate drug delivery to the brain.

Topics to be covered

• Modulating the blood-brain barrier by laser stimulation of nanoparticles
• Blood-brain barrier transporters that restrict drug delivery
• Focused ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier disruption
• Microbubble-enhanced focused ultrasound for drug delivery into the brain
  • 1646671170-fd0b235abdceba2a
    Zhenpeng Qin, PhD
    Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Center for Advanced Pain Studies (CAPS), University of Texas at Dallas, Adjunct Faculty of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
    Zhenpeng Qin is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering at the University of Texas at Dallas, a founding member of the Center for Advanced Pain Studies, and an adjunct faculty of surgery at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center. Qin’s research group focuses on developing new nanotechnologies to better understand and overcome barriers in the nervous system and develop highly sensitive and multiplexed methods for infectious disease diagnostics. Qin has received numerous awards, including a 2022 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Y.C. Fung Early Career Award, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for early-stage investigators for his pioneering work on the development of molecular hyperthermia to optically control protein activity, a Department of Defense (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Discovery Award, a Collaborative Sciences Award from American Heart Association (AHA), a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Individual Research Award, and a Faculty Research Award from UT Dallas Jonsson School. His research group has received generous support from National Science Foundation (NSF), NIH, DOD/CDMRP, AHA, and CPRIT. He actively serves on review panels at NSF, NIH, and DOD, and his research has been licensed into three start-up companies.
  • 1646671226-e7cec3adf1477ea1
    Olaf van Tellingen, PhD
    Group Leader, Division of Pharmacology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
    Olaf van Tellingen received his PhD on the pharmacology of investigational Vinca Alkaloids in mouse models in 1993 while working at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). He started as a pharmacologist, became an associate researcher, and eventually became group leader at the NKI. Between 1996 and 1997, he was a visiting scientist in the lab of Josh Fidler at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he became experienced in using orthotopic cancer models, including brain metastases models. Since then, his main research focus has centered on glioblastoma, a devastating malignant brain tumor with no known curative therapies. Tellingen’s research group studies the ABC-transporters ABCG2 and ABCB1, which are expressed at the blood-brain barrier and reduce the brain penetration of many drugs. He has shown that even in brain tumors, where this barrier is leakier, ABC transporters are expressed and can restrict drug efficacy. Tellingen is now repurposing elacridar, a drug that was previously developed to modulate ABCB1-mediated drug resistance in tumor cells, as a pharmaco-enhancer for drug delivery to the central nervous system.
  • 1646671327-d84ed0463a75ed66
    Costas Arvanitis, PhD
    Assistant Professor, G. W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and W. H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University
    Costas Arvanitis researches ultrasound biophysics and mechanobiology. His goal is to translate the discovery of novel methods for treating and diagnosing brain diseases into a clinical setting. His research group is particularly active in cancer research, where they develop minimally invasive methods and technologies for the targeted delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics to brain tumors. His team has recently demonstrated that focused ultrasound and weakly cationic nanoparticles loaded with smoothened (SMO) targeting siRNAs reduce SMO protein production and markedly increase tumor cell death in SMO-activated medulloblastoma. Arvanitis has received several awards, including the Roberts Prize for the best article published in the journal of Physics in Medicine and Biology in 2013, along with the Pathway to Independence award in 2014 and the MERIT award in 2020 from the National Institute of Health (NIH). His scholarship has been disseminated in over 100 papers, abstracts, and book chapters.
  • 1646671275-15b91a648abd6794
    Graeme F. Woodworth, MD
    Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Director, Brain Tumor Program and Translational Therapeutics Research Group, Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Maryland
    Graeme Woodworth completed medical school and neurosurgical residency training at Johns Hopkins University. He also completed fellowships in cancer nanomedicine at Johns Hopkins University and cranial endoscopy at Cornell University with Ted Schwartz, a leading professor of neurological surgery. Woodworth’s clinical interests include neurosurgical oncology and skull base and stereotactic surgery. His research focuses on developing new therapeutic strategies to improve the treatments and outcomes for patients with malignant brain tumors. These efforts include leveraging the diverse interstitial effects of transcranial focused ultrasound and hyperthermia, developing advanced nano-therapeutics to improve treatment efficacy, and expanding the suite of patient-derived and genetically engineered models of human brain tumors to improve predictive therapeutic testing. A core component of Woodworth’s research uses the operating room as a portal for discovery and opportunity to improve therapeutic delivery to brain cancers. Woodworth leads the first-in-human clinical trials of MRI-guided focused ultrasound (FUS) and Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) combined with radiation in the United States. These studies aim to establish the safety and feasibility of FUS and LITT in various clinical contexts, to use these technologies to improve therapeutic delivery to and effects against glioblastoma and other deadly brain tumors.