The end goal of the research is to develop small molecules that act as "chemical wedges," which "sit" on the Velcro junction points within the brain's blood vessels to prevent them from closing and gently allowing drugs to move through the system. His research seeks to develop a chemical method to open the blood-brain barrier that is gentle, but also quickly reversible.
The new technique would not be without risk, but the payoff of such a therapy would be broad, according to Karande.
"The most important challenge is going to be how we control this," he said. "We want to gently open the junctions in the brain, allow them to stay open for a short period of time during the delivery of a drug, and then reseal before any other potentially harmful materials can cross the barrier."
The result would be a much more targeted delivery of drugs to the brain. Currently, some of the most widely administered drugs used for people with brain illness do cross the blood-brain barrier, but only when large concentrations of chemicals are administered into the body to ensure that just a small fraction of the drug will bypass the tight blood-brain barrier. An example of this is the common Parkinson's drug L-DOPA, which is used to successfully treat thousands of people, but at the cost of substantial side effects due to the significant levels of the drug required to make it into the brain, according to Karande. He hopes his research success will allow drugs like L-DOPA and others to be more efficiently used within the body.
"We want to saturate the brain with a drug treatment," he said. Such saturation in the brain would reduce the presence of the drug in other hea
|Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco|
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute