Fabrication of multifunctional ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) has been addressed by many research groups.1,2 Recently a poly(vinyl alcohol) shelled microbubble 3 has shown a remarkable chemical and physical stability and versatility for the surface functionalization, leading to a platform for multimodality imaging (ultrasounds, magnetic resonance, single photon emission computer tomography) and targeting inflammation and tumours4. In this contribution we present a new strategy for the synthesis of UCAs precursors in the form of vesicles with a biodegradable crosslinked polymer shell.
Deposition of methacryloyl-derivative of hydrophilic and biodegradable polymers as dextran (DexMA50) or hyaluronic acid (HAMA30) on a lipid vesicle with a liquid perfluoropentane core, 5,6 followed by a photopolymerization of the methacrylate moiety allows the obtainment of polymer shelled vesicles.
Lipid shelled vesicles with a perfluorocarbon (PFC) core (Figure 1a) undergo an acoustic droplet vaporization (ADV),7 upon ultrasounds (US) irradiation, transforming such particles into ultrasound effective microbubbles (Fig 1b). The process is reversible as the US are switched off (Fig 1c). In the “microbubble” state, i.e. during US irradiation, the system is echogenic at low mechanical index, allowing their use as UCAs. In this contribution we show that additional functions can be implemented into the microbubbles. For example, we demonstrated the possibility to obtain shells with a thermoreversible behaviour.
This new class of polymer shelled vesicles/microbubbles entails features desired in a potential theranostic microdevice.
European Molecular Imaging Meeting EMIM 2013; Torino, Italy, 26-28 May, 2013