Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Boston College (2014)
  • Master of Science, Boston College (2010)
  • Bachelor of Science, Tribhuban University (2006)

Stanford Advisors

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Biomedical Ultrasound, Cavitation, Focused Ultrasound Mediated Drug Delivery for Cancer Therapy and Neuromodulation

All Publications

  • Evaluation of permeability, doxorubicin delivery, and drug retention in a rat brain tumor model after ultrasound-induced blood-tumor barrier disruption. Journal of controlled release : official journal of the Controlled Release Society Park, J., Aryal, M., Vykhodtseva, N., Zhang, Y. Z., McDannold, N. 2016


    Drug delivery in brain tumors is challenging because of the presence of blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the blood-tumor barrier (BTB). Focused ultrasound (FUS) combined with microbubbles can enhance the permeability of the BTB in brain tumors, as well as disrupting the BBB in the surrounding tissue. In this study, dynamic contrast-enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) was used to characterize FUS-induced permeability changes in a rat glioma model and in the normal brain and to investigate the relationship between these changes and the resulting concentration of the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin (DOX). 9L gliosarcoma cells were implanted in both hemispheres in male rats. At day 10-12 after implantation, FUS-induced BTB disruption using 690kHz ultrasound and Definity microbubbles was performed in one of the tumors and in a normal brain region in each animal. After FUS, DOX was administered at a dose of 5.67mg/kg. The resulting DOX concentration was measured via fluorometry at 1 or 24h after FUS. The transfer coefficient Ktrans describing extravasation of the MRI contrast agent Gd-DTPA was significantly increased in both the sonicated tumors and in the normal brain tissue (P<0.001) between the two DCE-MRI acquisitions obtained before and after FUS, while no significant difference was found in the controls (non-sonicated tumor/normal brain tissue). DOX concentrations were also significantly larger than controls in both the sonicated tumors and in the normal tissue volumes at 1 and 24h after sonication. The DOX concentrations were significantly larger (P<0.01) in the control tumors harvested 1h after FUS than in those harvested at 24h, when the tumor concentrations were not significantly different than in the non-sonicated normal brain. In contrast, there was no significant difference in the DOX concentrations between the tumors harvested at 1 and 24h after FUS or in the concentrations measured in the brain at these time points. The transfer coefficient Ktrans for Gd-DTPA and the drug concentrations showed a good linear correlation (R(2)=0.56). Overall, these data suggest that FUS and microbubbles can not only increase DOX delivery across the BBB and BTB, but that it is retained in the tissue at significantly enhanced levels for at least 24h. Such enhanced retention may increase the potency of this chemotherapy agent and allow for reduced systemic doses. Furthermore, MRI-based estimates of Gd-DTPA transport across these barriers might be useful to estimate local DOX concentrations in the tumor and in the surrounding normal tissue.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.10.011

    View details for PubMedID 27742444

  • Multiple sessions of liposomal doxorubicin delivery via focused ultrasound mediated blood-brain barrier disruption: A safety studyle JOURNAL OF CONTROLLED RELEASE Aryal, M., Vykhodtseva, N., Zhang, Y., McDannold, N. 2015; 204: 60-69


    Transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound is a rapidly advancing method for delivering therapeutic and imaging agents to the brain. It has the ability to facilitate the passage of therapeutics from the vasculature to the brain parenchyma, which is normally protected by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The method's main advantages are that it is both targeted and noninvasive, and that it can be easily repeated. Studies have shown that liposomal doxorubicin (Lipo-DOX), a chemotherapy agent with promise for tumors in the central nervous system, can be delivered into the brain across BBB. However, prior studies have suggested that doxorubicin can be significantly neurotoxic, even at small concentrations. Here, we studied whether multiple sessions of Lipo-DOX administered after FUS-induced BBB disruption (FUS-BBBD) induces severe adverse events in the normal brain tissues. First, we used fluorometry to measure the doxorubicin concentrations in the brain after FUS-BBBD to ensure that a clinically relevant doxorubicin concentration was achieved in the brain. Next, we performed three weekly sessions with FUS-BBBD±Lipo-DOX administration. Five to twelve targets were sonicated each week, following a schedule described previously in a survival study in glioma-bearing rats (Aryal et al., 2013). Five rats received three weekly sessions where i.v. injected Lipo-DOX was combined with FUS-BBBD; an additional four rats received FUS-BBBD only. Animals were euthanized 70days from the first session and brains were examined in histology. We found that clinically-relevant concentrations of doxorubicin (4.8±0.5μg/g) were delivered to the brain with the sonication parameters (0.69MHz; 0.55-0.81MPa; 10ms bursts; 1Hz PRF; 60s duration), microbubble concentration (Definity, 10μl/kg), and the administered Lipo-DOX dose (5.67mg/kg) used. The resulting concentration of Lipo-DOX was reduced by 32% when it was injected 10min after the last sonication compared to cases where the agent was delivered before sonication. In histology, the severe neurotoxicity observed in some previous studies with doxorubicin by other investigators was not observed here. However, four of the five rats who received FUS-BBBD and Lipo-DOX had regions (dimensions: 0.5-2mm) at the focal targets with evidence of minor prior damage, either a small scar (n=4) or a small cyst (n=1). The focal targets were unaffected in rats who received FUS-BBBD alone. The result indicates that while delivery of Lipo-DOX to the rat brain might result in minor damage, the severe neurotoxicity seen in earlier works does not appear to occur with delivery via FUS-BBB disruption. The damage may be related to capillary damage produced by inertial cavitation, which might have resulted in excessive doxorubicin concentrations in some areas.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jconrel.2015.02.033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000352146500008

    View details for PubMedID 25724272

  • Enhancement in blood-tumor barrier permeability and delivery of liposomal doxorubicin using focused ultrasound and microbubbles: evaluation during tumor progression in a rat glioma model PHYSICS IN MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY Aryal, M., Park, J., Vykhodtseva, N., Zhang, Y., McDannold, N. 2015; 60 (6): 2511-2527


    Effective drug delivery to brain tumors is often challenging because of the heterogeneous permeability of the 'blood tumor barrier' (BTB) along with other factors such as increased interstitial pressure and drug efflux pumps. Focused ultrasound (FUS) combined with microbubbles can enhance the permeability of the BTB in brain tumors, as well as the blood-brain barrier in the surrounding tissue. In this study, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) was used to characterize the FUS-induced permeability changes of the BTB in a rat glioma model at different times after implantation. 9L gliosarcoma cells were implanted in both hemispheres in male rats. At day 9, 14, or 17 days after implantation, FUS-induced BTB disruption using 690 kHz ultrasound and definity microbubbles was performed in one tumor in each animal. Before FUS, liposomal doxorubicin was administered at a dose of 5.67 mg kg(-1). This chemotherapy agent was previously shown to improve survival in animal glioma models. The transfer coefficient Ktrans describing extravasation of the MRI contrast agent Gd-DTPA was measured via DCE-MRI before and after sonication. We found that tumor doxorubicin concentrations increased monotonically (823  ±  600, 1817  ±  732 and 2432  ±  448 ng g(-1)) in the control tumors at 9, 14 and 17 d. With FUS-induced BTB disruption, the doxorubicin concentrations were enhanced significantly (P < 0.05, P < 0.01, and P < 0.0001 at days 9, 14, and 17, respectively) and were greater than the control tumors by a factor of two or more (2222  ±  784, 3687  ±  796 and 5658  ±  821 ng g(-1)) regardless of the stage of tumor growth. The transfer coefficient Ktrans was significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced compared to control tumors only at day 9 but not at day 14 or 17. These results suggest that FUS-induced enhancements in tumor drug delivery are relatively consistent over time, at least in this tumor model. These results are encouraging for the use of large drug carriers, as they suggest that even large/late-stage tumors can benefit from FUS-induced drug enhancement. Corresponding enhancements in Ktrans were found to be variable in large/late-stage tumors and not significantly different than controls, perhaps reflecting the size mismatch between the liposomal drug (~100 nm) and Gd-DTPA (molecular weight: 938 Da; hydrodynamic diameter: ≃2 nm). It may be necessary to use a larger MRI contrast agent to effectively evaluate the sonication-induced enhanced permeabilization in large/late-stage tumors when a large drug carrier such as a liposome is used.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/0031-9155/60/6/2511

    View details for Web of Science ID 000354880900016

    View details for PubMedID 25746014

  • Ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier disruption for targeted drug delivery in the central nervous system ADVANCED DRUG DELIVERY REVIEWS Aryal, M., Arvanitis, C. D., Alexander, P. M., McDannold, N. 2014; 72: 94-109


    The physiology of the vasculature in the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and other factors, complicates the delivery of most drugs to the brain. Different methods have been used to bypass the BBB, but they have limitations such as being invasive, non-targeted or requiring the formulation of new drugs. Focused ultrasound (FUS), when combined with circulating microbubbles, is a noninvasive method to locally and transiently disrupt the BBB at discrete targets. This review provides insight on the current status of this unique drug delivery technique, experience in preclinical models, and potential for clinical translation. If translated to humans, this method would offer a flexible means to target therapeutics to desired points or volumes in the brain, and enable the whole arsenal of drugs in the CNS that are currently prevented by the BBB.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.addr.2014.01.008

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338818400008

    View details for PubMedID 24462453

  • Multiple treatments with liposomal doxorubicin and ultrasound-induced disruption of blood-tumor and blood-brain barriers improve outcomes in a rat glioma model JOURNAL OF CONTROLLED RELEASE Aryal, M., Vykhodtseva, N., Zhang, Y., Park, J., McDannold, N. 2013; 169 (1-2): 103-111


    The blood-brain-barrier (BBB) prevents the transport of most anticancer agents to the central nervous system and restricts delivery to infiltrating brain tumors. The heterogeneous vascular permeability in tumor vessels, along with several other factors, creates additional barriers for drug treatment of brain tumors. Focused ultrasound (FUS), when combined with circulating microbubbles, is an emerging noninvasive method to temporarily permeabilize the BBB and the "blood-tumor barrier". Here, we tested the impact of three weekly sessions of FUS and liposomal doxorubicin (DOX) in 9L rat glioma tumors. Animals that received FUS+DOX (N=8) had a median survival time that was increased significantly (P<0.001) compared to animals who received DOX only (N=6), FUS only (N=8), or no treatment (N=7). Median survival for animals that received FUS+DOX was increased by 100% relative to untreated controls, whereas animals who received DOX alone had only a 16% improvement. Animals who received only FUS showed no improvement. No tumor cells were found in histology in 4/8 animals in the FUS+DOX group, and in two animals, only a few tumor cells were detected. Adverse events in the treatment group included skin toxicity, impaired activity, damage to surrounding brain tissue, and tissue loss at the tumor site. In one animal, intratumoral hemorrhage was observed. These events are largely consistent with known side effects of doxorubicin and with an extensive tumor burden. Overall this work demonstrates that multiple sessions using this FUS technique to enhance the delivery of liposomal doxorubicin have a pronounced therapeutic effect in this rat glioma model.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jconrel.2013.04.007

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320650200011

    View details for PubMedID 23603615