Researchers use nasal lining to breach blood-brain barrier

April 24, 2013

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."

Explore further: Propping open the door to the blood brain barrier

Related Stories

Propping open the door to the blood brain barrier

February 1, 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 ...

Cancer drug a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis

February 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, ...

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

September 13, 2011
Cornell University researchers may have solved a 100-year puzzle: How to safely open and close the blood-brain barrier so that therapies to treat Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and cancers of the central nervous ...

Recommended for you

'Residual echo' of ancient humans in scans may hold clues to mental disorders

July 26, 2017
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a "residual echo" from our ancient past. The more ...

Laser used to reawaken lost memories in mice with Alzheimer's disease

July 26, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at Columbia University has found that applying a laser to the part of a mouse brain used for memory storage caused the mice to recall memories lost due to a mouse version of Alzheimer's ...

Cellular roots of anxiety identified

July 26, 2017
From students stressing over exams to workers facing possible layoffs, worrying about the future is a normal and universal experience. But when people's anticipation of bad things to come starts interfering with daily life, ...

Cognitive cross-training enhances learning, study finds

July 25, 2017
Just as athletes cross-train to improve physical skills, those wanting to enhance cognitive skills can benefit from multiple ways of exercising the brain, according to a comprehensive new study from University of Illinois ...

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Zebrafish study reveals clues to healing spinal cord injuries

July 25, 2017
Fresh insights into how zebrafish repair their nerve connections could hold clues to new therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.

1 comment

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

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.