New drug-delivery system could treat brain disorders

A team of researchers has created a nanoparticle platform to facilitate successful delivery of therapeutic agents to the brain, which could open possibilities for the treatment of numerous neurological disorders.

Although researchers have in the past decade identified biological pathways leading to neurodegenerative diseases and developed promising molecular agents to target them, delivering therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and into the brain has been a challenge.

The newly created nanoparticle platform can facilitate therapeutically effective delivery of encapsulated agents in mice with a physically breached or intact blood-brain barrier, said the study published in the journal Science Avances.

In a mouse model of traumatic brain injury (TBI), they observed that the delivery system showed three times more accumulation in brain than conventional methods of delivery and was therapeutically effective as well.

The researchers believe that the study could open possibilities for the treatment of numerous neurological disorders.

Previously developed approaches for delivering therapeutics into the brain after traumatic brain injury rely on the short window of time after a physical injury to the head, when the blood-brain barrier is temporarily breached.

However, after the blood-brain barrier is repaired within a few weeks, physicians lack tools for effective drug delivery.

“It’s very difficult to get both small and large molecule therapeutic agents delivered across the BBB,” said corresponding author Nitin Joshi from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US.

“Our solution was to encapsulate therapeutic agents into biocompatible nanoparticles with precisely engineered surface properties that would enable their therapeutically effective transport into the brain, independent of the state of the BBB.”

The technology could enable physicians to treat secondary injuries associated with traumatic brain injury that can lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases, which can develop during ensuing months and years once the blood-brain barrier has healed.