Brain Discovery Promises New Dementia Treatments

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 01:00 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A new technique that allows the release of life-saving medicines into the brain has been developed by researchers in Florida.

It paves the way to help patients fight HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s,  Parkinson’s, and epilepsy.

“We pretty much opened a pathway to the brain.’’ Sakhrat Khizroev, a researcher at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, told the Miami Herald.

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A natural filter in the body stops many vital drugs from entering the brain through the blood stream. But the new technique, developed by Khizroev and school chairman Madhavan Nair, distributes it using magnetic energy.

In a laboratory test, they successfully attached the anti-HIV drug AZTTP to tiny, magneto-electric nanoparticles. Using magnetic energy, they moved the AZTTP across a cell membrane to mimic the natural barrier in the body.
The Herald reports that, at present, more than 99 percent of the antiretroviral therapies used to treat HIV head to the liver, lungs and other organs before reaching the brain. The new method will allow a much higher level to enter the brain.

Dr. Cheryl Holder, an HIV specialist who teaches at FIU, told the newspaper HIV causes constant inflammation and can pool in areas of the brain where medicine cannot reach and cause damage.

“It’s important to get the drug to the brain to help prevent dementia in older patients, and inflammation,’’ she said.

FIU researchers have applied for a patent for the technique.

The findings were published in the April edition of the medical journal, Nature Communications.

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