The grant allows a team to spend the next three years trying to unlock the blood brain barrier to allow drugs to be targeted at diseases including cancer. The £451,000 grant was given by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Drugs already exist that can be successfully used against some diseases elsewhere in the body but when those diseases are in the brain they are much harder to treat because most drugs cannot penetrate the protective barrier.
Dr Eugen Barbu, a chemist, will lead a team of four scientists from the School of Pharmacy aiming to modify a natural polymer so it can temporarily create an opening in the blood brain barrier and get through to deliver medicine. They will use polymer-based nanoparticles that are approximately 1/1000 of the diameter of a single human hair, which is about 80,000 nanometres wide.
The modified polymer would be small enough to breach the blood brain barrier and would act like a delivery container carrying the drug. Once they deliver their drug load to the brain they would biodegrade. A novel living 3D cell culture model of the human blood-brain barrier will be used to initially screen the interaction between the nanoparticles and the brain.
The research team chose to study natural polymers because they make excellent drug-carriers, are non-toxic and are biodegradable and biocompatible, so the brain won’t reject them.
Prof Darek Gorecki will be working alongside Dr Barbu. He said: “The BBSRC thought it was worth investing half a million pounds because though other scientists are studying ways of penetrating the blood brain barrier this idea of using modified natural polymers is novel.
“It is very experimental at this stage and the distance from here to doctors being able to better treat brain tumours is a long way off.
“The brain relies upon a rich blood supply but the barrier exists because it is vital not everything in the blood can get through. It is a very sophisticated filter. We are hoping that by using modified polymers working in various ways we can generate a temporary opening in the cells of the blood brain barrier and allow drugs to be delivered straight to the brain.”
If successful, the temporary unlocking of the filter would allow a range of brain diseases to be treated more efficiently. It is hoped that in the long term these formulations will be useful for the treatment of a range of brain diseases including brain tumours, stroke and neurodegenerative disorders.
The research group comprises a multidisciplinary team of Dr Barbu, senior research fellow, Dr John Tsibouklis, reader in polymer science, Professor Geoffrey Pilkington, a professor of cellular and molecular neuro-oncology and world-renowned expert in brain tumour biology and pathology, and Prof Gorecki, professor of molecular medicine. The team work in the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science, Biomaterials and Bionanotechnology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine Groups at the university, and will be supported by two post-doctoral researchers.
Kate Daniell | alfa
Research offers clues for improved influenza vaccine design
09.04.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Injecting gene cocktail into mouse pancreas leads to humanlike tumors
06.04.2018 | University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.
“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.04.2018 | Life Sciences
18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences