The recording of images of the human brain and its therapy in neurodegenerative diseases is still a major challenge in current medical research. The so-called blood-brain barrier, a kind of filter system of the body between the blood system and the central nervous system, constrains the supply of drugs or contrast media that would allow therapy and image acquisition. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have now produced tiny diamonds, so-called "nanodiamonds", which could serve as a platform for both the therapy and diagnosis of brain diseases.
The blood-brain barrier is a physiological boundary layer that works highly selectively and thus protects the brain: On the one hand, pathogens or toxins are effectively prevented from penetrating the brain, on the other hand, however, necessary messengers and nutrients can pass through them unhindered.
This selectivity makes it difficult for physicians to examine or treat the brain because drugs or contrast agents for imaging procedures cannot overcome the barrier.
Scientists led by Dr. Jana Hedrich, Prof. Dr. Heiko Luhmann and Prof. Dr. Tanja Weil, in cooperation with the University of Ulm and the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz have now investigated the suitability of a system based on nanodiamonds as diagnostic and therapeutic method.
Nano-diamonds with a size in the range of a millionth of a meter have the advantage of high biocompatibility: they are not degradable for the body, should be well tolerated and are therefore potentially suitable for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
For their research, the scientists have modified the diamonds in two ways: A coating with a biopolymer based on the most abundant protein in human blood, “serum albumin”, enables the diamonds to be absorbed into the brain and later to be combined with drugs. "Diamonds are chemically non-reactive, which means that it is difficult to bind drug molecules," says Jana Hedrich and Tanja Weil. "The albumin coating enables us to create a stable coating and bind almost any medication to it.”
As a further modification, a defect was specifically introduced into the diamond by replacing an atom in the diamond, which consisting of carbon, with a nitrogen atom. Furthermore, there is an empty space in the crystal directly next to this nitrogen atom. "A diamond is normally very clear and, ideally, flawless - light can therefore easily pass through it," explains Hedrich.
"By making targeted changes to the lattice structure, we create defects that allow us to detect the diamond using laser beams or magnetic resonance tomographs: It ‘shines’ so to speak”. In this way, researchers can also use the diamond for diagnostic purposes.
In their latest publication, the scientists have now tested the extent to which the diamond-albumin-system can cross the blood-brain barrier both in the test tube and on mice. They were able to prove that the diamonds were effectively transported into the brain without attacking the blood-brain barrier itself.
The newly developed system has the advantage that it can be adapted to the person to be treated and could thus permit highly individual diagnosis and therapy. A modification of the surface of the diamonds, for example, could ensure that only certain cell types in the brain are supplied with drugs and that tumors, for example, could be treated specifically.
The scientists see their system as an important step in the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. By combining luminous diamonds with compatible biopolymers, they have for the first time developed a system that combines the advantages of high biocompatibility, long stability, a simple combination with various drugs and detection by medical methods.
Their results have now been published in the renowned journal "SMALL".
Dr. Jana Hedrich
Phone: 06131 379-317
Unraveling In Vivo Brain Transport of Protein‐Coated Fluorescent Nanodiamonds
Dr. Christian Schneider | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung
Scientists discover how the molecule-sorting station in our cells is formed and maintained
18.11.2019 | Tokyo University of Science
Pesticides: Improved effect prediction of low toxicant concentrations
18.11.2019 | Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.
With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.
New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...
If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.
Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...
Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
05.11.2019 | Event News
18.11.2019 | Earth Sciences
18.11.2019 | Life Sciences
18.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering