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
One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology