By Amanda Panacci
Scientists have long struggled with how to slow the spread of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s. Ideally, biologic therapeutics such as antibodies would make their way into our brains reversing the inflammation that these disorders cause—were it not for the the challenge of getting past the blood-brain barrier.
But a group of scientists, medical specialists and researchers with Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) believe they have made a breakthrough.
The blood-brain barrier is the Fort Knox of the body. Envision, if you will, a wall of army clad officers separating the brain from the circulatory system. The officers (which are actually a line of brain endothelial cells) are there to protect the central nervous system from potentially harmful invaders, like chemicals. But by only allowing a select few types of molecules to cross—for example, water, some gases, and lipid soluble molecules—the blood-brain barrier also prevents disease fighting drugs from entering the nervous system too.
The NRC’s Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers (TBBB) program has been developing carrier molecules for the past six years that enable disease-fighting molecules to infiltrate the blood-brain barrier by essentially tricking the mind and exploiting the same mechanism that allows nutrients into the brain. The carrier molecules are referred to as Trojan horses disguising antibodies or peptides as proteins.
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