New Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Method Delivers Drugs Across Blood-brain Barrier

Ana Pamplona, PhD avatar

by Ana Pamplona, PhD |

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Recent research identified a new technology that can successfully deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier, conferring neuroprotection in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. The study entitled “Heterotopic Mucosal Grafting Enables the Delivery of Therapeutic Neuropeptides Across the Blood Brain Barrier” was published in Neurosurgery by researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and Boston University, USA.

The blood-brain barrier is a critical drawback when treating neurological disease as it prevents around 98% of all neuropeptides from entering the central nervous system (CNS). Unfortunately, there is still no efficient method to circumvent this natural barrier. Nasal mucosal grafting has been a commonly used technique during brain tumors surgeries. These interventions are performed through the nose and can perforate the blood-brain barrier, using the nasal lining to rebuild the hole in the brain, since it can protect the brain from infection the same way as the original barrier.

In this study, the authors used nasal mucosal grafting to deliver glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a therapeutic protein currently being tested for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, into mice brains. They replaced a section of the blood-brain barrier with nasal mucosa much more permeable than the original barrier, this way delivering GDNF into the central nervous system. The team observed that this new delivery method preformed as efficiently as direct injection of GDNF into the brain, the current method of GDNF delivery in Parkinson’s disease, but without its inherent distressing nature and high complication rates.

“We are developing a platform that may eventually be used to deliver a variety of drugs to the brain,” said senior author Dr. Benjamin S. Bleier, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School, in a press release.

Dr. Bleier explained that even though they are applying this technology in Parkinson’s disease, it has the potential to be used in psychiatric diseases, chronic pain, seizure disorders, and many other diseases affecting the brain and nervous system. Dr. Jamie Eberling, senior associate director of the Michael J. Fox Foundation Research programs, added that the technology developed by Bleier’s group has the potential to bypass the blood-brain barrier and pave the way to further tests in Parkinson’s disease patients. “It is a platform that opens doors for new discovery and could enable drug development for an underserved population,” said Dr. Bleier.

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