What’s the Latest?
Scientists at a Canadian research center will soon test their theory of how to overcome the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a biological feature which protects the brain from toxins in the blood but also prevents beneficial medicines from reaching the brain. The solution may rest in microbubbles, tiny gas-filled pockets of air that will expand and contract about 200,000 times a second, forcing apart the specialized cells that form the BBB. “The idea is that this will allow the chemotherapy drug in the bloodstream to sneak through the gaps in the barrier and into any nearby tumor cells.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The experiment, to be carried out at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute, will involve 10 patients suffering from cancerous brain tumors. “First, the volunteers will be given a chemotherapy drug that does not usually cross the BBB. They will then receive an injection of microbubbles, which will spread throughout the body, including into the blood vessels that serve the brain.” Researchers believe that if the trial runs are successful, a similar method cold be used to combat Alzheimer’s, using micro bubbles to deliver antibodies shown to wipe out protein plaques characteristic of the disease.