"It's all done at nano-level, and the challenge is to find the vehicles that can transport the required medicine to the brain. In our attempts to come up with efficient vehicles we now point at some special liposomes and polymers that can bring an active substance to the olfactory bulb more than 2-3 times more efficiently than when using the standard techniques", explains di Cagno.
Liposomes are small spheres of fat, which is often used to protect active substance and carry them into the body. Polymers are long molecules that can be attached to the liposomes so that they can be made to look like water and thus not be rejected by the body's immune system.
The improved efficiency is very important for the development of future medicines for neurological diseases. Today a pill has to contain millions of times more active ingredients than the brain needs to fight the disease. But because the blood-brain barrier is so effective and the brain so good at throwing foreign substances out, you have to send an extreme amount of active substances towards the brain.
"In a pill patients receive extremely more medicine than they need, and when we talk about medicines with severe and unpleasant side effects, it is not good. It is therefore very important that we get better at delivering exactly the amount of active substances needed - and no more", says di Cagno.
The new liposomes and polymers from his and Barbara Luppi's work can not only carry the active ingredients efficiently through the slimy mucosa of a nose, so that they can reach the olfactory bulb. They can also do it over a longer time.
"We want to develop a vehicle that can release the active ingredients over a long time, over many hours, so the patients do not have to spray their nose too many times a day. In our experiments we still saw active substances being released after three hours, and we are very happy with that. One must
|Contact: Birgitte Svennevig|
University of Southern Denmark