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Med Res Rev. 2002 Mar;22(2):204-23.

Therapeutic ultrasound: its application in drug delivery.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Campus Box C-238, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


Ultrasound is best known for its imaging capability in diagnostic medicine. However, there have been considerable efforts recently to develop therapeutic uses for it. The purpose of this review is to summarize some of the recent advances made in the area of therapeutic ultrasound as they relate to drug delivery. In particular, this review will focus on the applications of ultrasound to enhance the delivery and effect of three distinctive therapeutic drug classes: chemotherapeutic, thrombolytic, and gene-based drugs. In addition, ultrasound contrast agents have been recently developed for diagnostic ultrasound. New experimental evidence suggests that these contrast agents can be used as exogenous cavitation nuclei for enhancement of drug and gene delivery. Thus, brief review of this new class of agents and their roles in drug delivery will also be provided. By comparison to diagnostic ultrasound, progress in therapeutic use of ultrasound has been somewhat limited. The recent successes in ultrasound-related drug delivery research positions ultrasound as therapeutic tool for drug delivery in the future.

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