Skip to comments.Nanomaterials offer hope for cerebral palsy
Posted on 04/25/2012 12:50:37 AM PDT by neverdem
Rabbits with brain injuries hop again after treatment with dendrimers.
By tacking drugs onto molecules targeting rogue brain cells, researchers have alleviated symptoms in newborn rabbits that are similar to those of cerebral palsy in children. Cerebral palsy refers to a group of incurable disorders characterized by impairments in movement, posture and sensory abilities.
In general, medicines tend to act broadly rather than influence certain sets of cells in the brain. You dont expect large molecules to enter the brain, and if they do, you dont expect them to target specific cells, and immediately act therapeutically but all of this happened, says study co-author Rangaramanujam Kannan, a chemical engineer at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. The paper is published today in Science Translational Medicine1.
According the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 303 children have cerebral palsy by age 8, which usually results from neurological damage in the womb, caused by, for example, a kink in the umbilical cord that briefly dimishes the foetus' oxygen, or maternal infection. Such injuries lead to the activation of immune cells in the brain called microglia and astrocytes, which cause further inflammation and exacerbate the damage.
Calming the cells is difficult, because anti-inflammatory drugs dont easily cross the bloodbrain barrier. And those that do tend to diffuse nonspecifically.
Whats amazing here is that the authors target the drug directly to the microglia, says Mike Johnston, a paediatric neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.
The team affixed an anti-inflammatory drug, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), to synthetic, snowflake-shaped molecules called dendrimers, and injected the conjugates into the bloodstream of newborn rabbits with experimentally injured brains. The dendrimers transported the drug across the bloodbrain barrier and released it directly into the activated microglia and astrocytes, halting further...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
What's with the "again"? They were just born. They never hopped in the first place. It's more interesting because NAC is an antidote to Tylenol poisoning, aka acetomenophen poisoning, while acetomenophen is not an anti-inflammatory drug.
Where’s the link?
Somehow it went poof after controlling the number of words in the excerpt. I have no idea about what happened.
Here's the Nature News' URL: http://www.nature.com/news/nanomaterials-offer-hope-for-cerebral-palsy-1.10475
I first caught the abstract at Science. Science links abstracts at Science Translational Medicine. I then found a decent news story at Nature News. Nature News usually links the abstract. So I thought I was good to go.
One of my best friends had cerebral palsy. He and his older brother were the first to take me to a range. I was a vulnerable yute already fascinated by fireworks.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Furthermore, because researchers have recently found that microglia have a role in other neurological ailments, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimers disease2, the finding could be applied in other contexts. Already, dendrimers are being used in studies on the treatment of diseases ranging from genital herpes to cancer. People told us not to bother with this experiment because no one thought you could release drugs directly into immune cells in the brain, says Kannan, who reported previously that dendrimers injected into rats' eyes targeted microglia3. But somehow, he says these dendrimers are special.The words that are music to the research lab directors ears: Huh!! Thats funny!"