“Transcranial Focused Ultrasound a Unique Tool for Basic and Translational Neuroscience”
Costas Arvanitis, Ph.D.
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Focused Ultrasound (FUS) is a unique technology for localizing energy deep into the brain. The mechanical energy deposited in the focal region, typically a few mm wide, can be utilized to induce thermal or mechanical effects to the brain tissue. Incorporation of microbubbles to the circulation allows focusing the acoustic energy down to cellular level providing the ability to selectively activate cell's mechanoreceptors, disrupt cellular and vascular membranes, such as the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), and induce cell death. The unique advantages of this technology have led to major breakthroughs in functional neurosurgery, most notably to the noninvasive thalamotomy for essential tremor. Moreover, our recent work also demonstrated targeted, noninvasive blockade of cortical neuronal activity after FUS-induced BBB-permeabilization of the motor cortex of a rodent and the i.v. delivery of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a small molecule that normally does not reach the brain with systemic administration. Ultrasound alone can potentially activate mechanosensitive ion channels. Leveraging the recent discovery of piezo1 proteins, which are components of the mechanically activated calcium channels, we are currently characterizing this process with patch clamp methods in order to provide baseline cellular response and identify robust methods to induce ultrasonic-provoked action potentials. Harnessing these abilities of FUS technology not only opens up the possibility to map brain function and study the transient response and the association of different neuronal circuits, but also holds great promise for the treatment of central nervous system diseases and disorders.
This presentation can be seen via videoconference on the Emory Campus HSRB E260