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INTRODUCTION: Ultrasound, which has traditionally been used as a diagnostic tool, is increasingly being used in non-invasive therapy and drug delivery. AREAS COVERED: Of particular interest to this review is the rapidly accumulating evidence that ultrasound may have a key role to play both in improving the targeting and the efficacy of drug delivery for cancer. Currently available ultrasound-triggerable vehicles are first described, with particular reference to the ultrasonic mechanism that can activate release and the suitability of the size range of the vehicle used for drug delivery. Further mechanical and thermal effects of ultrasound that can enhance extravasation and drug distribution following release are then critically reviewed. EXPERT OPINION: Acoustic cavitation is found to play a potentially key role both in achieving targeted drug release and enhanced extravasation at modest pressure amplitudes and acoustic energies, whilst simultaneously enabling real-time monitoring of the drug delivery process. The next challenge in ultrasound-enhanced drug delivery will thus be to develop a new generation of drug-carrying nanoparticles which are of the right size range for delivery to tumours, yet still capable of achieving initiation of cavitation activity and drug release at modest acoustic pressures and energies that have no safety implications for the patient.

Original publication




Journal article


Expert Opin Drug Deliv

Publication Date





1525 - 1538


Acoustics, Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Drug Delivery Systems, High-Energy Shock Waves, Humans, Nanoparticles, Neoplasms, Pharmaceutical Preparations, Ultrasonic Therapy