Researchers use nasal lining to breach blood-brain barrier

Neurodegenerative and central nervous system (CNS) diseases represent a major public health issue affecting at least 20 million children and adults in the United States alone. Multiple drugs exist to treat and potentially cure these debilitating diseases, but 98 percent of all potential pharmaceutical agents are prevented from reaching the CNS directly due to the blood-brain barrier.

Using mucosa, or the lining of the nose, researchers in the department of Otology and Laryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and the Biomedical Engineering Department of Boston University have demonstrated what may be the first known method to permanently bypass the , thus opening the door to new treatment options for those with neurodegenerative and CNS disease. Their study is published on PLOS ONE.

Many attempts have been made to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier using methods such as osmotic disruption and implantation of catheters into the brain, however these methods are temporary and prone to infection and dislodgement.

"As an endoscopic surgeon, I and many other researchers have helped to develop methods to reconstruct large defects between the nose and brain using the patient's own mucosa or nasal lining," said Benjamin S. Bleier, M.D., at Mass. Eye and Ear and HMS Assistant Professor.

Study co-author Xue Han, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, said, "The development of this model enables us to perform critical preclinical testing of novel therapies for neurological and psychiatric diseases."

Inspired by recent advances in human endoscopic transnasal skull based surgical techniques, the investigators went to work to develop an of this technique and use it to evaluate transmucosal permeability for the purpose of direct drug delivery to the brain.

In this study using a mouse model, researchers describe a novel method of creating a semi-permeable window in the blood-brain barrier using purely autologous tissues to allow for higher molecular weight drug delivery to the CNS. They demonstrated for the first time that these membranes are capable of delivering molecules to the brain which are up to 1,000-times larger than those excluded by the blood-brain barrier.

"Since this is a proven surgical technique which is known to be safe and well tolerated, this data suggests that these membranes may represent the first known method to permanently bypass the blood-brain barrier using the patient's own tissue," Dr. Bleier said. "This method may open the door for the development of a variety of new therapies for neurodegenerative and CNS disease.

Future studies will be directed towards developing clinical trials to test this method in patients who have already undergone these endoscopic surgeries."

Related Stories

Propping open the door to the blood brain barrier

Feb 01, 2013

The treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases can be particularly challenging because many of the therapeutic agents such as recombinant proteins and gene medicines are not easily transported across the blood-brain ...

Toward the first nose drops to treat brain cancer

Sep 22, 2010

Scientists are reporting the development and successful initial testing of a new form of methotrexate -- the mainstay anticancer drug -- designed to be given as nose drops rather than injected. It shows promise as a more ...

Cancer drug a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis

Feb 21, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—A drug that is currently used for cancer can relieve and slow down the progression of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS) in rats, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE. The discovery, which ...

Recommended for you

Surprising new role for calcium in sensing pain

58 minutes ago

When you accidentally touch a hot oven, you rapidly pull your hand away. Although scientists know the basic neural circuits involved in sensing and responding to such painful stimuli, they are still sorting ...

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations

21 hours ago

Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations, previously believed that only the brain could perform. This is according to a study from Umeå University in Sweden published in the journal Nature Ne ...

Memory in silent neurons

Aug 31, 2014

When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behavior. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2013
This 'novel' therapeutic treatment approach [e.g., for Alzheimer's] also avoids the problematic and invasive neural stem cell replacement, and the treatment appears to follow from a presentation I made in 1992: Luteinizing hormone: The link between sex and the sense of smell? Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. San Diego, California. Nov 12-15. It is great to see others begin to realize the importance of how olfactory/pheromonal input crosses the blood/brain barrier in brain dysfunction, nonetheless. Can you imagine how much progress might otherwise have been made if cause and effect had been established more than two decades ago? See, for example: "Pheromones and the luteinizing hormone for inducing proliferation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis" http://www.freshp...8009.php