Polymeric microbubbles for ultrasonic molecular imaging and targeted therapeutics.
Gas-filled microbubbles ultrasound agent have received wide attention, not only because they can improve ultrasound signals, but also they can be used as drug/gene carriers. Among all types of microbubbles fabricated by different membrane materials and core gases, polymer-shell microbubbles are highly promising. Polymeric microbubbles are more stable than other soft shell microbubbles in vivo. Under destructive ultrasound, polymer-stabilized microbubbles disintegrate and emit a strong non-linear signal, which enables ultrasound imaging with superior sensitivity. Except for ultrasound imaging, polymeric microbubbles could also be applied as drug/gene-delivery system. The thick polymeric shells allow loading a large amount of drugs. Meanwhile, site-specific targeting and controlled drug release in the area of interest can be realized through chemical and physical modification. In this review, we highlight some of the recent examples on polymeric microbubbles and their applications in ultrasound molecular imaging and drug delivery.
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