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New way to deliver drugs to the brain

21st March 2011

Researchers have found a new method of getting medication to the brain which could help the treatment of dementia and Parkinson's disease.

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The scientists, from the University of Oxford, used mice to find out that exosomes could be used to transport drugs.

The study, published in Nature Biotechnology, said that exosomes were able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

The brain is protected by a barrier to allow oxygen in but which prevents bacteria entering and causing infections.

Exosomes have the ability to transport matter from cell to cell. The scientists took exosomes from cells in the mice and bound them with the rabies virus.

The rabies virus has the ability to bind itself to receptors in the brain, which is why it was used. The team then filled the exosomes with the genetic code siRNA and gave them to the mice by injection.

It was found that siRNA reached the brain's cells and switched off the gene BACE1 which is associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"These are dramatic and exciting results" said lead researcher Dr Matthew Wood. "This is the first time this natural system has been exploited for drug delivery."

 

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