Research team breakthrough in delivering drugs to the brain

March 11, 2013
UCL research team breakthrough in delivering drugs to the brain

Researchers at UCL have made a breakthrough in the way that drugs could be delivered to the brain.

Ijeoma F. Uchegbu, Mariarosa Mazza, Andreas G. Schätzlein and their colleagues have tackled the difficult problem of constructing drugs which are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier – a mechanism which prevents many chemicals in the bloodstream from passing into the brain, including administered as medication as well as harmful .

A new class of drugs – peptide drugs – are now at the forefront of tackling this problem, which, if solved, could revolutionise delivery of pain relief as well as offer hope in treating such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Enabling such drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier is key to revolutionising the treatment of these conditions.

Professor Uchegbu and her team's breakthrough has been to modify a pain-relief drug – Dalargin – to successfully cross this barrier through attaching a group of lipids, or fat molecules, to enable its passage into the brain in mice in the form of a molecule known as a nanofibre.

To see if the helped the drug reach the brain, the team at UCL injected two groups of mice with the drug: one were given the unmodified version, while the other were administered the drug in the form of a nanofibre. After scanning, it was found that the modified drug has successfully passed into the brains of the mice that had ingested it.

"This is really just the tip of the iceberg in the potential of this type of structure in terms of how we can deliver drugs to the brain," says Professor Uchegbu. "It could be expanded to a whole range of other peptide drugs, and we are looking in the future to focus on whether we can transfer the success of this research to other classes of drugs, such as enkephalins.

Explore further: Breaching the blood-brain barrier: Researchers may have solved 100-year-old puzzle

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.