A team of scientists from San Francisco has found a way to transport medication to fight Alzheimer’s disease through the blood-brain barrier in monkeys without serious side-effects.
A Danish PhD student who is participating on the research team, Maria Selch Hersom, from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, noted that it has been exciting to see the effect of the medication on the brain. This method also could be used to treat other ailments, such as brain cancer, Herson said.
The researchers designed an antibody that can attach onto transferrin, a receptor that transports iron from the bloodstream into the brain, allowing the antibody to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Once the antibody is inside, its other end hones in on the enzyme β-secretase 1 (BACE1), which produces amyloid-β, the substance that leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The antibody then prevents BACE1 from making amyloid-β. If the process is perfected, it could stop Alzheimer’s from advancing to the point where it cannot be treated. Researchers now hope to find a way to test the delivery method on humans.