Focused Ultrasound-Mediated Delivery of Anti-Programmed Cell Death-Ligand 1 Antibody to the Brain of a Porcine Model

Siaka Fadera, Chinwendu Chukwu, Andrew H. Stark, Yimei Yue, Lu Xu, Chih Yen Chien, Jinyun Yuan, Hong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy has revolutionized cancer treatment by leveraging the body’s immune system to combat cancer cells. However, its effectiveness in brain cancer is hindered by the blood-brain barrier (BBB), impeding the delivery of ICIs to brain tumor cells. This study aimed to assess the safety and feasibility of using focused ultrasound combined with microbubble-mediated BBB opening (FUS-BBBO) to facilitate trans-BBB delivery of an ICI, anti-programmed cell death-ligand 1 antibody (aPD-L1) to the brain of a large animal model. In a porcine model, FUS sonication of targeted brain regions was performed after intravenous microbubble injection, which was followed by intravenous administration of aPD-L1 labeled with a near-infrared fluorescent dye. The permeability of the BBB was evaluated using contrast-enhanced MRI in vivo, while fluorescence imaging and histological analysis were conducted on ex vivo pig brains. Results showed a significant 4.8-fold increase in MRI contrast-enhancement volume in FUS-targeted regions compared to nontargeted regions. FUS sonication enhanced aPD-L1 delivery by an average of 2.1-fold, according to fluorescence imaging. In vivo MRI and ex vivo staining revealed that the procedure did not cause significant acute tissue damage. These findings demonstrate that FUS-BBBO offers a noninvasive, localized, and safe delivery approach for ICI delivery in a large animal model, showcasing its potential for clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2479
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • blood-brain barrier
  • brain drug delivery
  • focused ultrasound
  • immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • immunotherapy


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