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Medical New Way to Get Drugs into the Brain

  1. Jun 13, 2006 #1
    Hey everyone,

    I found this really interesting article at Technology Review about a new procedure scientists have developed for administering drugs directly into the brain. This could potentially have major implications for the treatment of such neurological disorders as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. You can check out the full article here:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=16982&ch=biotech
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2006 #2

    Moonbear

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    Pretty interesting. I'd have expected something like that to have the effect of a sledge-hammer, so was surprised to see that they're saying it's reversible, and within only a few hours.
     
  4. Jun 13, 2006 #3
    I would be a little bit scared knowing that my blood-brain barrier would be open for 4 hours, thats a lot of time for nasty things to get in there. Also assuming that a single-administration of the drug probably will not do, it would mean that the barrier will be opened up multiple times. It's a cool approach, though, I would be interested to see what actual applications come out of it.
     
  5. Jun 15, 2006 #4

    Moonbear

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    Yes, that's certainly a major limitation. There's no specificity, so while your drug can get across, so can microbes. I'd have to wonder what disease is so severe that one would consider worth the risk of meningitis an acceptable possible side effect of the treatment, unless you were actually treating meningitis or another brain infection of some sort. Getting antibiotics across the blood-brain barrier is really difficult, so only a few are available that are effective for this. If you happen to have an infection with something resistant to those (perhaps as the result of a trauma or surgical complication), getting an alternative antibiotic across the blood-brain barrier seems worth this risk.

    I'd be curious too. It may have more applicability in an experimental setting than a clinical setting, where a response to a single administration of a drug may be all that you want to test (and not necessarily in humans), then leave it to the biochemists and pharmacologists to figure out how to get it across an intact blood-brain barrier later, when it's demonstrated the drug actually will do what it's supposed to once across.

    I don't know what application it could possibly have for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's other than people like to toss those out as examples every time there's a new technology available even when it really won't help with them because those are familiar to most people.
     
  6. Jun 15, 2006 #5
    Thats a really good point, and I can see this technique being used in order to elucidate the efficacy and potency of various drugs in vivo. However, with that said, when dealing with drugs you also have to consider their metabolic products. In many instances drugs get broken down to compounds that are very toxic and may do more harm if not eliminated rapidly from the body. The way I see it, getting a drug into the brain is only half the battle; you would have to ensure its metabolite(s) can also get out. It would be hard enough to make a drug that can easily cross the barrier and whose metabolic product can leave.

    But I totally agree with you on this technique being more useful in a experimental setting and not clinical, at least for now.
     
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