Ultrasonic enhancement of drug penetration in solid tumors

Chun Yen Lai, Brett Z. Fite, Katherine W. Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Increasing the penetration of drugs within solid tumors can be accomplished through multiple ultrasound-mediated mechanisms. The application of ultrasound can directly change the structure or physiology of tissues or can induce changes in a drug or vehicle in order to enhance delivery and efficacy. With each ultrasonic pulse, a fraction of the energy in the propagating wave is absorbed by tissue and results in local heating. When ultrasound is applied to achieve mild hyperthermia, the thermal effects are associated with an increase in perfusion or the release of a drug from a temperature-sensitive vehicle. Higher ultrasound intensities locally ablate tissue and result in increased drug accumulation surrounding the ablated region of interest. Further, the mechanical displacement induced by the ultrasound pulse can result in the nucleation, growth and collapse of gas bubbles. As a result of such cavitation, the permeability of a vessel wall or cell membrane can be increased. Finally, the radiation pressure of the propagating pulse can translate particles or tissues. In this perspective, we will review recent progress in ultrasound-mediated tumor delivery and the opportunities for clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number00204
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Volume3 AUG
StatePublished - 2013


  • Enhanced drug delivery
  • Sonoporation
  • Tumor penetration
  • Ultrasound
  • Vascular permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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