One research area of the chair deals with the targeted and local release of drugs so that therapies -with as few side effects as possible- can be realized (targeted drug delivery).

Ultrasound contrast agents play a major role here. At present, these usually consist of nano-envelope-stabilized gas bubbles (microbubbles), which are only a few micrometers in diameter.

These microbubbles can be used as transport containers for drugs, but also for viruses or plasmids for gene therapy: for example, microbubbles loaded with plasmids can be destroyed by a short high-energy ultrasound pulse, thus releasing the plasmids.

Another option is sonoporation, the temporary opening of cell membranes by ultrasound. This is done by microbubbles oscillating strongly in the vicinity, creating microcurrents. This allows drugs and plasmids to be taken up by cells. The mechanisms involved in sonoporation are not yet fully understood, so targeted drug delivery in-vitro and in-vivo has not yet shown reliable reproducibility.

In this project, the mechanisms involved in sonoporation will be investigated. The aim is to appropriately tailor ultrasound excitation for optimal and reproducible therapy. In collaboration with the Department of Molecular Gastroenterological Oncology at the Medical Faculty of the Ruhr-University Bochum and the Medical Clinic and Polyclinic C of the University Hospital Münster, in-vitro and in-vivo sonoporation studies will be performed.

Contacts: Stefanie Dencks und Georg Schmitz

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