Nanoparticles 'smuggle' drugs into brain to treat Alzheimer's disease


Nanoparticles embedded with drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, according to a cell-based study published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy today. The results of this study demonstrate nanoparticles are a promising tool to transport drugs to the brain for use in neurological conditions.

Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common forms of dementia, is associated with pathological deposits of the amyloid-beta protein in the brain. Blocking the accumulation of amyloid-beta is thought to be one potential way of slowing the onset of the disease .

There have been many examples where clinical trials using anti-inflammatory drugs, which lower amyloid-beta levels to treat the disease, have failed. It is thought one reason for the failure of these trials is due to the inability of drugs to cross the BBB, which separates circulating blood from the central nervous system to prevent toxins from entering the brain.

Cellular binding of the flurbiprofen nanoparticles

Flurbiprofen is a US Food and Drug Administration approved anti-inflammatory drug that has been shown to lower amyloid-beta levels but struggles to cross the BBB. In this study, flurbiprofen was embedded in polymer nanoparticles so the team could study effectiveness in crossing the BBB, in mouse brain cells in petri dishes, and whether the drug remained biologically active after transport. To compare the effectiveness of the drug-embedded nanoparticles, drug-free nanoparticles and the non-embedded free drug were used as controls.

The results of the study indicate that the drug-embedded nanoparticles traversed the BBB and entered the in vitro brain cells. The drug-embedded nanoparticles decreased amyloid-beta levels more than the flurbiprofen alone. Once across the BBB, flurbiprofen acted by modifiying the action of gamma secretase, the enzyme that produces amyloid-beta.

Senior author Professor Claus Pietrzik from University of Mainz says “In our study, we were able to show that the embedding of nonpermeable drugs into nanoparticles results in an efficient drug transport across a cellular BBB model.”

Further research for the authors includes concentrating on ways of improving the nanoparticle delivery system in systems similar to in vivo models, and examining the effectiveness of using nanoparticles in treating other central nervous system diseases in mouse models.

Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy is an international, peer-reviewed journal with an Impact Factor of 4.39. All of the research articles in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy are open access. To access all subscription content, including peer-reviewed reviews, commentaries, debates and viewpoints, register for a free trial to the journal. To keep up to date with the latest articles published in the journal, sign up for Article Alerts and follow us on Twitter.

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