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International scientists tackle obstacles to treating brain disorders
Date:12/20/2007

A research team led by scientists at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Oregon Health & Science University have outlined the challenges and made suggestions on how to advance research and improve treatments for brain disorders.

The review article is published in the January 2008 issue of the Lancet Neurology and will be available online on December 17.

Many neurological disorders are difficult to treat because of a natural barrier in the brain. The blood-brain barrier is a specialized system of cells that acts as a gatekeeper for the brain, blocking harmful substances from entering while allowing in necessary nutrients. The barrier is necessary to keep the brain and nervous system healthy. However, it also causes problems in medication delivery because it treats medications as the enemy, preventing the therapeutic agents from doing their job.

In order to develop new and innovative treatments for diseases such as stroke, Alzheimers disease, and multiple sclerosis, researchers have to find ways to overcome the blood-brain barrier, said Lester Drewes, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. The review has resulted in a number of recommendations to establish and fund research centers that will focus on overcoming these barriers. Drewes is the founding president of the International Brain Barriers Society, a forum for scientists to share their research and fast track discoveries related to the blood-brain barrier. He and 14 other scientists wrote the review.

Edward Neuwelt, M.D., a professor of neurology and neurological surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine and a physician at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is among the most active scientists in the international community studying the blood-brain barrier. Neuwelt also was a major participant in the review.

The blood-brain barrier is the Achilles heel for treating virtually all neurologic
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Contact: Sara Buss
buss@umn.edu
612-626-7037
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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