Cornell University Studies May Grant Access to the Blood Brain Barrier

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Researchers from the Cornell University may have solved a century old puzzle—that is how to safely access and close the blood brain barrier in order to deliver the medications for brain cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease effectively.

The researchers have discovered that a certain molecule synthesized by the body called Adenosine can regulate the entry of large molecules into the blood brain barrier. The group has found out that when the cells comprising the blood brain barrier are activated by the use of adenosine, there can be a possible channel from the systemic circulation to the other side of the blood brain barrier.

The study was carried out using mice samples but scientists noted that the human body is also able to synthesize adenosine. They also found out that an FDA approved drug called Lexiscan, an adenosine based medication which is utilized in heart imaging procedures, is able to momentarily establish a gateway across the blood brain barrier.

It should be remembered that the blood brain barrier is made up of cells that constitute the blood vessels of the brain. The barrier acts as a semi-permeable membrane which selectively allows entrance of specific molecules found in the blood like amino acids, glucose, oxygen and water. Being a very restrictive membrane, scientists have been exerting all efforts in finding a way to gain access to the blood brain barrier in order to deliver drugs essential in treating neurological disorders.

According to Margaret Bynoe, an Associate Professor of Immunology at the Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, “The biggest hurdle for every neurological disease is that we are unable to treat these diseases because we cannot deliver drugs into the brain.” The certain study was also supported financially by the National Institute of Health. She also said that, “Big pharmaceutical companies have been trying for 100 years to find out how to traverse the blood-brain barrier and still keep patients alive.” Meanwhile, Bynoe and her colleagues have patented the findings of the study and have built a company called Adenios Inc., which will conduct further drug testing and clinical trials to ascertain the potential of their research.

Currently, many researchers and physicians are making use of the piggyback method in delivering drugs to the brain and having them bind with receptors. The drugs make use of molecules as their vehicles to gain access to the blood brain barrier but sadly, this leads to the drugs loss of efficacy since the blood brain barrier is a sensitive mesh.

“Utilizing adenosine receptors seems to be a more generalized gateway across the barrier,” she added. “We are capitalizing on that mechanism to open and close the gateway when we want to. We wanted to see the extent to which we could get large molecules in and whether there was a restriction on size.”

Although the researchers identified several antagonists of the adenosine receptors using mice samples, further researches will identify workarounds to successfully deliver drugs to the human brain.




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