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Russell R. Lonser, Asad S. Akhter, Mirosław Zabek, J. Bradley Elder, and Krystof S. Bankiewicz

Molecular biological insights have led to a fundamental understanding of the underlying genomic mechanisms of nervous system disease. These findings have resulted in the identification of therapeutic genes that can be packaged in viral capsids for the treatment of a variety of neurological conditions, including neurodegenerative, metabolic, and enzyme deficiency disorders. Recent data have demonstrated that gene-carrying viral vectors (most often adeno-associated viruses) can be effectively distributed by convection-enhanced delivery (CED) in a safe, reliable, targeted, and homogeneous manner across the blood-brain barrier. Critically, these vectors can be monitored using real-time MRI of a co-infused surrogate tracer to accurately predict vector distribution and transgene expression at the perfused site. The unique properties of CED of adeno-associated virus vectors allow for cell-specific transgene manipulation of the infused anatomical site and/or widespread interconnected sites via antero- and/or retrograde transport. The authors review the convective properties of viral vectors, associated technology, and clinical applications.

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Krystof S. Bankiewicz, Tomasz Pasterski, Daniel Kreatsoulas, Jakub Onikijuk, Krzysztof Mozgiel, Vikas Munjal, J. Bradley Elder, Russell R. Lonser, and Mirosław Zabek


The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility, accuracy, effectiveness, and safety of an MRI-compatible frameless stereotactic ball-joint guide array (BJGA) as a platform for cannula placement and convection-enhanced delivery (CED).


The authors analyzed the clinical and imaging data from consecutive patients with aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency who underwent infusion of adeno-associated virus (AAV) containing the AADC gene (AAV2-AADC).


Eleven patients (7 females, 4 males) underwent bilateral MRI-guided BJGA cannula placement and CED of AAV2-AADC (22 brainstem infusions). The mean age at infusion was 10.5 ± 5.2 years (range 4–19 years). MRI allowed for accurate real-time planning, confirmed precise cannula placement after single-pass placement, and permitted on-the-fly adjustment. Overall, the mean bilateral depth to the target was 137.0 ± 5.2 mm (range 124.0–145.5 mm). The mean bilateral depth error was 0.9 ± 0.7 mm (range 0–2.2 mm), and the bilateral radial error was 0.9 ± 0.6 mm (range 0.1–2.3 mm). The bilateral absolute tip error was 1.4 ± 0.8 mm (range 0.4–3.0 mm). Target depth and absolute tip error were not correlated (Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, r = 0.01).


Use of the BJGA is feasible, accurate, effective, and safe for cannula placement, infusion MRI monitoring, and cannula adjustment during CED. The low-profile universal applicability of the BJGA streamlines and facilitates MRI-guided CED.