21 March 2022

The key to the gate

Scientists have learned to penetrate the blood-brain barrier of the brain

Svetlana Maslova, Hi-tech+

The opening and closing of the blood-brain barrier of the brain is due to a single receptor, which was identified by scientists from Yale University. They have also developed an antibody that controls this mechanism. This is a breakthrough result in the therapy of neurodegenerative diseases and brain cancer, which until now have been very difficult to treat due to the inability to deliver drugs directly to the brain.

The brain's blood-brain barrier is a complex vascular network that protects tissue from toxins and pathogens. For many years, scientists have sought to find a way to "open" this veil for drug delivery. Now American researchers have presented a method that opens and closes the blood-brain barrier on demand.

Article by Boyé et al. Endothelial Unc5B controls blood-brain barrier integrity published in the journal Nature Communications – VM.

In experiments on mouse models, they managed to open the protective barrier for two hours — this is enough time to deliver drugs to brain tissue.

The result was preceded by long experiments with candidate molecules, which were analyzed for their role in this mechanism.

It was known from previous studies that the blood-brain barrier depends on the Wnt signaling pathway, which regulates a number of important cellular processes. New experiments have shown the connection of Wnt with the Unc5B capillary endothelial cell receptor and the Netrin-1 protein, which plays an important role in creating connections between endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier.

Further experiments confirmed that the Unc5B receptor controls the Wnt pathway, and the Netrin-1 molecule is necessary for the formation of a barrier effect. As a result, scientists have developed an antibody that blocks this connection, which led to the temporary opening of the blood-brain barrier.

So far, scientists have not registered any complications in mice, but further studies are needed to confirm the potential of experimental therapy for humans. Controlling the opening of the blood-brain barrier can change approaches in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, brain cancer and many other diseases that are currently "closed" to direct drug exposure.

Ultrasound turned out to be another potential way to open the blood-brain barrier. Scientists have proved that ultrasound exposure can open the vascular barrier for 24 hours without side effects for a person.

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