The brain is one of the most important parts of the body. It serves as the control centre of the body; hence it should be protected against diseases that may damage its neurons.
However age and a weak immune system can give rise to susceptibility towards illnesses affecting the central nervous system. Once infection or neurodegeneration in the brain sets in, the condition will be harder to treat, because the blood brain barrier will keeps drugs from passing and acting on the brain tissues. For a drug to be effective against brain illnesses it has to pass through the blood brain barrier and, sadly, only a few medicines can do this.
The Drug Study
Now, there is good news. Recently, researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and Boston University have discovered a new method by which drugs can pass through the blood brain barrier so that they can offer neuroprotection in a mouse model for Parkinson's disease. This is considered a breakthrough since naturally, the blood brain barrier is considered impenetrable. Their findings are published in the recent issue of Neurosurgery journal.
The researchers are glad with their findings because with it they are able to give hope to numerous patients around the world who have neurological illnesses which are hard to treat because only a few drugs can enter the blood brain barrier. This blood brain barrier is said to prevent about 98% of medicines from reaching the brain tissue and parts of the central nervous system. The researchers are still currently developing newer platforms that may be used to deliver substances to the brain and which may be useful in the treatment of not only neurodegenerative diseases but also psychiatric conditions, seizure disorders, long term pain, infections and other illnesses that may affect the brain and the spinal cord.
The new technique involved delivering glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a protein with therapeutic properties towards Parkinson's disease, with the use of nasal mucosal grafting to the brains of mice. Nasal mucosal grafting is a technique which is being used in ENT to reconstruct the blood brain barrier after surgery at the base of the brain. The safety and efficacy of this procedure has been tested and proven for many years in the medical field. The nasal lining protects the brain from infection and other diseases just like what the blood brain barrier does to the brain.
The results show that this delivery method was comparable to direct injection of glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) to the brain, by examining behavioral and histological data captured. Injection of glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) to the brain is currently the gold standard in delivering drugs in the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease. However, this gold standard of delivering drugs to Parkinson's disease is risky because it's traumatic nature and high complication rates. However this delivery method has been tested and proven to delay and reverse disease progression in patients with Parkinson's disease in clinical trials.
This study was funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). For more information on the brain and its functions feel free to browse this site.