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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Ben Gurion scientists slip past the blood-brain barrier

The biggest obstacle in chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer is getting past something called the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier prevents drugs injected into the bloodstream from reaching the brain to fight cancer. In the past, most efforts to overcome this problem have focused on injecting the chemotherapy poison (yes, that's really what it is) directly into the tumor area. Now, scientists at Ben Gurion University have found a new way to get past the barrier. It's called the V-Smart delivery system (Hat Tip: Ricky G).
The breakthrough technology, which uses microscopic, bubble-like membranous structures known as vesicles, was developed by the interdisciplinary team of emeritus Prof. Eli Heldman of the university’s clinical biochemistry department, Dr. Sarina Grinberg of the chemistry department and Dr. Charles Linder of the Avram and Stella Goldstein- Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering.

A New York biotech company, Laurel Sciences, has signed a licensing agreement with BGU’s technology transfer company BGN Technologies.

Articles on the technology have been published by the Negev-based team in the Journal of Controlled Release, the Journal of Chemistry and Physics of Lipids and the Journal of Liposome Research, among others.

Despite great advances in therapeutic drugs, the problem of unwanted side effects remains a serious obstacle to treating patients. Most adverse effects are the result of a drug’s interaction with locations in the patient’s body that are not relevant to its medicinal action. But if an effective delivery system can make medications more available at target locations, the amount of harmful side effects is much reduced.

The V-Smart delivery system could be especially relevant to diseases of the central nervous system, from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis, amyotropic lateral sclerosis and neurological complications of HIV, as well as brain cancers.

The scientists administered V-Smart vesicles intravenously and orally to lab mice to deliver to the brain encapsulated material such as analgesic peptides that greatly reduced pain.

In an interview on Sunday with The Jerusalem Post, Heldman predicted that the technology could be used in clinical trials in about two years.
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