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


Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Levent Degertekin


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 B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from the Technological Educational Institution of Athens, Greece (2002), M.Sc. in Medical Physics from the University of Patras, Greece (2005), and a Ph.D. in Medical Physics from the University College London, U.K. (2008). Dr. Arvanitis, for his PhD thesis, worked on the development and optimization of digital radiography devices and methods for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment assessment. Subsequently, at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford (2008-2010), Dr Arvanitis 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. While at University of Oxford, he developed ultrasound systems to study and optimize the ability of acoustic cavitation to noninvasively propel oncolytic adenoviruses deep into solid tumors. During his research fellowship in image guided therapy (NIH-R25) at the Focused Ultrasound Lab at BWH/HMS (2010-2014), he engineered multi-modality and multi-scale 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), is concentrated on understanding the biological effects of acoustic cavitation and its use to study the tumor microenvironment and develop novel targeted therapies for the treatment of brain cancer.


Refreshments will be served.