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Ultrasound Contrast Agent for Amplified Drug Delivery

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

12:15 PM-1:45 PM

BIOMED PhD Research Proposal

Ultrasound Contrast Agent for Amplified Drug Delivery
Matthew A. Shirley, PhD Candidate
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
Drexel University

Margaret A. Wheatley, PhD
John M. Reid Professor
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
Drexel University

Breast cancer outcome data from 2022 are devastating and reveal an absolute need to improve breast cancer outcomes. Many current, widely-used treatments for breast cancer can have debilitating consequences, such as osteoporosis, cardiotoxicity, and infertility, for which socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have a much harder time seeking adequate initial and follow-up health care. The localized delivery of encapsulated chemotherapeutics in a polymer ultrasound contrast agent, or microbubble (MB), could address side effects by reducing systemic concentrations and potentially decreasing the required chemotherapeutic dose, in addition to reducing off-target side effects. However, inefficient therapeutic delivery from MB encapsulation, due to factors such as low payloads and a lack of targeting, has hampered recent advances. Low payload is a significant attributing factor that, once addressed, will reinvigorate the study of ultrasound targeted chemotherapeutics via encapsulation. A drug delivery platform that advances the local efficacy of future, and particularly current, chemotherapeutics is vital to the advancement of cancer treatment for all people.

The purpose of this research is to fabricate a biocompatible, injectable, polymer MB that functions as a targeted theranostic, and addresses local payload. Integrating the carbon nanoparticles (CNPs), carbon quantum dots and graphene quantum dots, fluorescent nanoparticles capable of individually carrying chemotherapeutics, into the shell of the MB is hypothesized to address this critical need in three key ways: 1) Drug encapsulation in poly(lactic acid) (PLA) MBs significantly decreases systemic chemotherapeutic interaction compared to free drug, yet flashing loaded-MBs with high-intensity focused ultrasound does produce a local, focused release of the payload. 2) CNPs, depending on structure, can carry drugs and exhibit cancer cell uptake. 3) CNPs have also shown virtually no toxicity, in contrast to quantum dots, but possess comparable fluorescence properties. This project’s successful combination of CNP-loaded MBs (CNP-MBs) would allow this novel drug delivery vehicle to play a role in the battle against cancer.

Contact Information

Natalia Broz

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