Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Focusing ultrasonic energy at cellular level: new concepts, tools, and methods for targeted therapies in the brain


Dr. Costas Arvanitis


Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School


Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 1:00:00 PM


IBB Building, Room 1128


Karim Sabra, Stanislav Emelianov
karim.sabra@me.gatech.edu, stas@gatech.edu


Focused ultrasound is a unique technology for localizing energy deep into the body. The mechanical energy deposited in the focal region, typically a few mm wide, can be utilized to induce thermal or mechanical effects to tissues. Incorporation of microbubbles to the circulation allows focusing the acoustic energy down to cellular level providing the ability to selectively activate the cell's mechanoreceptors, disrupt cellular and vascular membranes, and, even, induce cell death. Harnessing these abilities may have significant impact to the treatment of cancer and central nervous system (CNS) diseases and disorders. In my talk, I will elaborate on the ability of acoustically induced stable microbubble oscillations (stable cavitation) to noninvasively, safely, and effectively disrupt neurovascular networks, such as the blood brain barrier (BBB), and increase the delivery of high molecular weight agents. I will also show how microjets induced by asymmetric collapse of oscillating microbubbles (inertial cavitation) can be used to overcome tumor physiologic barriers and propel oncolytic adenoviruses far beyond the vessel's periphery. Acoustic cavitation can also be used to thermally or mechanically ablate tissues or trigger the release of drugs from sonosensitive nanocarriers noninvasively. Finally, methods that provide the ability to control this inherently nonlinear process (i.e. acoustic cavitation) and estimate the cellular or microvascular perturbations induced by oscillating microbubbles noninvasively, will be presented. It is envisioned that the proposed methods and technology will allow to study and understand complex biological systems, such as the neurovascular network and the tumor microenvironment, in a completely different way, resulting in new concepts, tools and methods for targeted therapies in the brain.


Dr. Arvanitis, is Instructor (faculty) at the Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He holds a BSc in Biomedical Engineering from the Technological Educational Institution of Athens, Greece (2002), MSc in Medical Physics from the University of Patras, Greece (2005), and a PhD in Medical Physics from the University College London, U.K. (2008). For his PhD thesis, he worked on the development and optimization of digital radiography devices and methods for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment assessment. Subsequently, he became passionate about acoustically induced microbubble oscillations (acoustic cavitation) and their ability to focus noninvasively acoustic energy at the cellular level and induce a wide range of biologically significant effects. He developed ultrasound systems to study and optimize the ability of acoustic cavitation to noninvasively propel oncolytic adenoviruses deep into solid tumors. Next, during his research fellowship in image guided therapy (NIH-R25), he engineered multi-modality approaches to characterize, control and map acoustic cavitation and shed light on the interactions of oscillating microbubbles with neurovascular networks, such as the blood brain barrier. Currently, as a recipient of the NIH/NIBIB K99/R00 Award (2014-2019), he is concreted on gaining a better understanding of the biological effects of ultrasound and acoustic cavitation with the goal of developing novel targeted therapies for the treatment of brain cancer. Dr Arvanitis also works on the development of novel acoustofluidic devices for basic research and drug discovery. He has published 25 original articles, one of which received the 2014 Roberts Prize for the best article in the journal of Physics in Medicine and Biology in 2013. He has written two book chapters and has one patent application in focused ultrasound drug delivery. He has given several invited talks at local laboratories and national and international conferences. He is also committed to teaching. He has mentored undergraduate and graduate students and gave lectures and laboratory demonstrations at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School.