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Ultrasound is well known as a safe, reliable imaging modality. A historical limitation of ultrasound, however, was its inability to resolve structures at length scales less than nominally 20 µm, which meant that classical ultrasound could not be used in applications such as echocardiography and angiogenesis where one requires the ability to image small blood vessels. The advent of ultrasound contrast agents, or microbubbles, removed this limitation and ushered in a new wave of enhanced ultrasound applications. In recent years, the microbubbles have been designed to achieve yet another application, namely ultrasound-triggered drug delivery. Ultrasound contrast agents are thus tantamount to ‘theranostic’ vehicles, meaning they can do both therapy (drug delivery) and imaging (diagnostics). The use of ultrasound contrast agents as drug delivery vehicles, however, is perhaps less than ideal when compared to traditional drug delivery vehicles (e.g., polymeric microcapsules and liposomes) which have greater drug carrying capacities. The drawback of the traditional drug delivery vehicles is that they are not naturally acoustically active and cannot be used for imaging. The notion of a theranostic vehicle is sufficiently intriguing that many attempts have been made in recent years to achieve a vehicle that combines the echogenicity of microbubbles with the drug carrying capacity of liposomes. The attempts can be classified into three categories, namely entrapping, tethering, and nesting. Of these, nesting is the newest—and perhaps the most promising.

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Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.