PM.20.051 – Towards theranostic ultrasound for brain diseases

Route: Personalised medicine: the individual at the centre

Cluster question: 083 How do neurological, psychiatric, and mental disorders arise, and how can we prevent, mitigate, or cure them?

Brain disorders impose a huge burden on society at large. The treatment challenge is to normalize brain function in affected brain regions only, which is notoriously difficult given the complexity of the brain. Current treatment options patients are limited. Drugs are not effective or not tolerated well. Non-pharmacological treatment options to modulate brain activity are invasive with huge side-effects (e.g. deep brain stimulation) or imprecise (e.g. transcranial magnetic stimulation). Recent developments in ultrasound technology show the potential to non-invasively image brain activity and treat brain diseases. The ultimate goal would be to use ultrasound by combining therapeutics and diagnostics into a novel theranostic device. For the project we will first develop highly precise technology with integrated electronics for advanced brain imaging and neuromodulation of brain dysfunction separately. With functional ultrasound we will image (diseased) brain activity, indirectly by assessing vascular function, and with focused ultrasound we will modulate brain activity by delivering beams of sound at precise locations. Before theranostic ultrasound can go into the clinic, the following innovative steps are needed, which we will address in the project. (1) Scanning procedures and integrating electronics in the acoustic probes are needed to achieve sub-mm resolution. (2) The interaction of therapeutic ultrasound with tissue needs to be tested by means of rodent models that faithfully mimic human disease (e.g. migraine, epilepsy and autism). We will advance ultrasound imaging to visualize at an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution changes in blood vessel function. We will combine this with novel neuromodulation devices consisting of low-power consuming ultrasound transducers onto a system-on-chip that deliver high-precision ultrasound energy into neuronal tissue with sub-mm spatial resolution. Our research team consists of engineers, neuroimagers, neuroscientists, and clinicians that already have developed concrete initiatives to map the route to take ultrasound to the clinic.


Autism, brain, device, epilepsy, imaging, mice, migraine, patient, probe, ultrasound

Other organisations

Erasmus Medical Center (EMC), Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD)


Organisation Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC)
Name Prof. dr. A.M.J.M. (Arn) van den Maagdenberg