Highway to Brain

18/02/2015 - 2 minutes

Researchers in Barcelona have developed a shuttle to transport drugs into the brain, running through the blood-brain barrier.

If there is an irreplaceable organ, for the moment, that’s the brain. The gray matter is not only protected by the skull, but also by a barrier of cells that tightly regulates the transport of substances into this organ in order to prevent infection. The essential protective function of this barrier is also a red light for 98% of drug candidates for the treatment of the central nervous system. However, scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have presented a shuttle able to cross the blood-brain barrier and transport various substances into the brain.

The blood-brain barrier is not totally hermetic as the brain constantly requires oxygen, iron, insulin, etc. So there are transport mechanisms through “doors” which open and close continuously. Taking advantage of the receptors through which the brain receives iron, the shuttle-ambulance crosses the barrier without disrupting nutrient flow or altering the protective function of the barrier.

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