Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nano-Devices that Cross Blood-Brain Barrier Open Door to Treatment of Cerebral Palsy, Other Neurologic Disorders

24.04.2012
Studies in rabbits hold promise for people

A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere have developed nano-devices that successfully cross the brain-blood barrier and deliver a drug that tames brain-damaging inflammation in rabbits with cerebral palsy.

A report on the experiments, conducted at Wayne State University in collaboration with the Perinatology Research Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, before the lead and senior investigators moved to Johns Hopkins, is published in the April 18 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

For the study, researchers used tiny, manmade molecules laced with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an anti-inflammatory drug used as antidote in acetaminophen poisoning. The researchers precision-targeted brain cells gone awry to halt brain injury. In doing so they improved the animals’ neurologic function and motor skills.

The new approach holds therapeutic potential for a wide variety of neurologic disorders in humans that stem from neuro-inflammation, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism and multiple sclerosis, the investigators say.

The scientists caution that the findings are a long way from human application, but that the simplicity and versatility of the drug-delivery system make it an ideal candidate for translation into clinical use.

“In crossing the blood-brain barrier and targeting the cells responsible for inflammation and brain injury, we believe we may have opened the door to new therapies for a wide-variety of neurologic disorders that stem from an inflammatory response gone haywire,” says lead investigator Sujatha Kannan, M.D., now a pediatric critical-care specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Cerebral palsy (CP), estimated to occur in three out of 1,000 newborns, is a lifelong, often devastating disorder caused by infection or reduced oxygen to the brain before, during or immediately after birth. Current therapies focus on assuaging symptoms and improving quality of life, but can neither reduce nor reverse neurologic damage and loss of motor function.

Neuro-inflammatory damage occurs when two types of brain cells called microglia and astrocytes — normally deployed to protect the brain during infection and inflammation — actually damage it by going into overdrive and destroying healthy brain cells along with damaged ones.

Directly treating cells in the brain has long proven difficult because of the biological and physiological systems that have evolved to protect the brain from blood-borne infections. The quest to deliver the drug to the brain also involved developing a technique to get past the brain-blood barrier, spare healthy brain cells and deliver the anti-inflammatory drug exclusively inside the rogue cells.

To do all this, the scientists used a globular, tree-like synthetic molecule, known as a dendrimer. Its size — 2,000 times smaller than a red blood cell — renders it fit for travel across the blood-brain barrier. Moreover, the dendrimer’s tree-like structure allowed scientists to attach to it molecules of an anti-inflammatory NAC. The researchers tagged the drug-laced dendrimers with fluorescent tracers to monitor their journey to the brain and injected them into rabbits with cerebral palsy six hours after birth. Another group of newborn rabbits received an injection of NAC only.

Not only did the drug-loaded dendrimers make their way inside the brain but, once there, were rapidly swallowed by the overactive astrocytes and microglia.

“These rampant inflammatory cells, in effect, gobbled up their own poison,” Kannan says.

“The dendrimers not only successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier but, perhaps more importantly, zeroed in on the very cells responsible for neuro-inflammation, releasing the therapeutic drug directly into them,” says senior investigator Rangaramanujam Kannan, Ph.D., of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.

Animals treated with dendrimer-borne NAC showed marked improvement in motor control and coordination within five days after birth, nearly reaching the motor skill of healthy rabbits. By comparison, rabbits treated with dendrimer-free NAC showed minimal, if any, improvement, even at doses 10 times higher than the dendrimer-borne version. Animals treated with the dendrimer-delivered drug also showed better muscle tone and less stiffness in the hind leg muscles, both hallmarks of CP.

Brain tissue analysis revealed that rabbits treated with dendrimer-borne NAC had notably fewer “bad” microglia — the inflammatory cells responsible for brain damage — as well as markedly lower levels of other inflammation markers. They also had better preserved myelin, the protein that sheaths nerves and is stripped or damaged in CP and other neurologic disorders. And even though CP is marked by neuron death in certain brain centers, animals who received dendrimer-borne NAC had higher number of neurons in the brain regions responsible for coordination and motor control, compared with untreated animals and those treated with NAC only.

The findings suggest that the treatment not only reduces inflammation in the cells, but may also prevent cell damage and cell death, the researchers said. The Kannans, who are married, say they plan to follow some treated animals into adulthood to ensure the improvements are not temporary.

A separate study, led by Rangaramanujam Kannan, has already demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of this approach in reversing retinal damage in rats with macular degeneration, the vision-robbing eye disorder that affects millions of older adults.

Other investigators involved in the research were Hui Dai, Raghavendra Navath, Bindu Balakrishnan, Amar Jyoti, James Janisse and Roberto Romero.

Jyoti and Balakrishnan are now at Hopkins and part of the ongoing research.

The study was funded by the Perinatology Research Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

Founded in 1912 as the children's hospital at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. Hopkins Children’s is consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation. Hopkins Children’s is Maryland's largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, pulmonary, and transplant. Hopkins Children's will celebrate its 100th anniversary and move to a new home in 2012. For more information, please visit www.hopkinschildrens.org

Ekaterina Pesheva | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hopkinschildrens.org
http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Nano-Devices-that-Cross-Blood-Brain-Barrier-Open-Door-to-Treatment-of-Cerebral-Palsy.aspx
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Discovery shows promise for treating Huntington's Disease
05.08.2020 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Carbon monoxide improves endurance performance
05.08.2020 | Universität Bayreuth

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>