Nano-devices that cross blood-brain barrier open door to treatment of cerebral palsy

Public release date: 23-Apr-2012 [ | E-mail | Share ]

Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva epeshev1@jhmi.edu 410-502-9433 Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere have developed nano-devices that successfully cross the brain-blood barrier and deliver a drug that tames brain-damaging inflammation in rabbits with cerebral palsy.

A report on the experiments, conducted at Wayne State University in collaboration with the Perinatology Research Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, before the lead and senior investigators moved to Johns Hopkins, is published in the April 18 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

For the study, researchers used tiny, manmade molecules laced with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an anti-inflammatory drug used as antidote in acetaminophen poisoning. The researchers precision-targeted brain cells gone awry to halt brain injury. In doing so they improved the animals’ neurologic function and motor skills.

The new approach holds therapeutic potential for a wide variety of neurologic disorders in humans that stem from neuro-inflammation, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism and multiple sclerosis, the investigators say.

The scientists caution that the findings are a long way from human application, but that the simplicity and versatility of the drug-delivery system make it an ideal candidate for translation into clinical use.

“In crossing the blood-brain barrier and targeting the cells responsible for inflammation and brain injury, we believe we may have opened the door to new therapies for a wide-variety of neurologic disorders that stem from an inflammatory response gone haywire,” says lead investigator Sujatha Kannan, M.D., now a pediatric critical-care specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Cerebral palsy (CP), estimated to occur in three out of 1,000 newborns, is a lifelong, often devastating disorder caused by infection or reduced oxygen to the brain before, during or immediately after birth. Current therapies focus on assuaging symptoms and improving quality of life, but can neither reduce nor reverse neurologic damage and loss of motor function.

Neuro-inflammatory damage occurs when two types of brain cells called microglia and astrocytes normally deployed to protect the brain during infection and inflammation actually damage it by going into overdrive and destroying healthy brain cells along with damaged ones.

See the article here:

(1) Nano-devices that cross blood-brain barrier open door to treatment of cerebral palsy
URL: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/jhmi-ntc042312.php



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