New Method Developed for Delivering Medication Past Blood-Brain Barrier


Investigators have developed a new method for delivering medication through the blood-brain barrier, according to a study published in Nano Letters. The technique uses light and nanoparticles to temporarily open the tight junctions that protect the brain and allow medication to reach its target.

“Approaches to increase blood-brain barrier [BBB] permeability are essential to advance therapeutics for central nervous system diseases,” said Xiaoqing Li, co-lead author and biomedical engineering doctoral student at UT Dallas, in a press release.

According to the investigators, the method involves injecting gold nanoparticles into the patient’s bloodstream to target the blood-brain barrier. The researchers then apply picosecond laser pulses externally to activate the gold nanoparticles, which produces a small mechanical force that temporarily opens the barrier. The results showed that this technique did not damage the blood-brain barrier or vasomotion, according to the study authors.

“We demonstrated that the [blood-brain barrier] permeability can be modulated without significant disruption to the spontaneous vasomotion or the structure of the neurovascular unit,” said Qi Cai, PhD, mechanical engineering research associate and co-lead author, in the release.

The investigators tested this method with cargos of antibodies, liposomes, and adeno-associated viral vectors, which can be used to carry gene-editing components. The team has received a grant from CPRIT to study whether the method can be used to treat glioblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in adults.

They currently plan to design and produce magnetic nanoparticles that can be stimulated to disrupt the blood-brain barrier using magnetic fields.

“Support from CPRIT has been instrumental in our work,” said Zhenpeng Qin, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas and co-corresponding author, in the release. “When we started, we had an idea, basically to use nanoparticles to target specific components of the blood-brain barrier with minimal injury.”


Team engineers new way to get medication past blood-brain barrier [news release]. Science Daily; November 12, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021.

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