Overview of Current Drug Delivery Methods Across the Blood–Brain Barrier for the Treatment of Primary Brain Tumors

Rianne Haumann, Jessica Carvalho Videira, Gertjan J.L. Kaspers, Dannis G. van Vuurden, Esther Hulleman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Existing drug delivery methods have not led to a significant increase in survival for patients with malignant primary brain tumors. While the combination of conventional therapies consisting of surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy has improved survival for some types of brain tumors (e.g., WNT medulloblastoma), other types of brain tumors (e.g., glioblastoma and diffuse midline glioma) still have a poor prognosis. The reason for the differences in response can be largely attributed to the blood–brain barrier (BBB), a specialized structure at the microvasculature level that regulates the transport of molecules across the blood vessels into the brain parenchyma. This structure hampers the delivery of most chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of primary brain tumors. Several drug delivery methods such as nanoparticles, convection enhanced delivery, focused ultrasound, intranasal delivery, and intra-arterial delivery have been developed to overcome the BBB in primary brain tumors. However, prognosis of most primary brain tumors still remains poor. The heterogeneity of the BBB in primary brain tumors and the distinct vasculature of tumors make it difficult to design a drug delivery method that targets the entire tumor. Drug delivery methods that combine strategies such as focused ultrasound and nanoparticles might be a more successful approach. However, more research is needed to optimize and develop new drug delivery techniques to improve survival of patients with primary brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1131
Number of pages11
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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