A big challenge in medical science is to get medicine into the brain when treating patients with neurological diseases. The brain will do everything to keep foreign substances out and therefore the brains of neurological patients fight a constant, daily battle to throw out the medicine prescribed to help the patients.
The problem is the so-called blood-brain barrier, which prevents the active substances in medicine from travelling from the blood into the brain.
"The barrier is created because there is extremely little space between the cells in the brain's capillar walls. Only very small molecules can enter through these openings and become active in the brain. And for the substances which finally get in, a new problem arises: The brain will do anything to throw them out again", explains assistant professor, Massimiliano di Cagno from in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy.
On this background science is looking for alternative pathways to the brain - and the nose is a candidate receiving much attention. From cocaine abusers it is well known that a substance can be absorbed through the nose and reach the brain extremely effective.
"It is very interesting to investigate if medical drugs can do the same", says di Cagno.
In recent years research has shown that it can be a very good idea to send medicine to the brain via the nose. The medicine can be sprayed into the nose and absorbed through the olfactory bulb, which is positioned at the front of the underside of the brain. Once the medicine passes the olfactory bulb there is direct access to the brain.
But there are many challenges to be solved before patients can be prescribed medication to be taken nasally.
"One of the biggest challenges is getting the olfactory bulb to absorb the substances aimed for the brain", explains di Cagno.
Together with Barbara Luppi from the University of Bologna in Italy he therefore investigated how to
|Contact: Birgitte Svennevig|
University of Southern Denmark