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Breaching the blood-brain barrier to create powerful new tools for fighting cancer
Date:7/27/2010

to the brain in the long term.

Using a combination of computer simulations, in-vitro modeling, molecular modeling, and microarray technology, the research team is designing new peptides short chains of amino acids that can serve as the needed "chemical wedge."

"Currently, the best therapy for brain surgery involves removing the part of the brain that is malignant or tumorous. In the case of diffuse glioma, however, the cancer is so widespread that you can't remove it you'd have to remove, effectively, the entire brain," Karande said. "If we are successful in breaching the blood-brain barrier and delivering drugs straight to the brain, it could have a tremendous impact in the fight against cancer, as well as other chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury."

Another research thrust of Karande's is looking at non-invasive methods of delivering drugs and vaccines through the skin and into the bloodstream. The idea is for health care workers and diabetics to use small patches that can be directly applied to the skin, rather than piercing the skin with needles. Key findings of this study were published in 2004 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, and described a new method for using chemicals to make molecular-sized holes in skin through which drug molecules can travel. The method is safe and caused no inflammation, irritation, or long-term damage.

Karande said skin protects our bodies in a way that's similar to how the blood-brain barrier protects our brains. Both are extremely complex and effective systems for safeguarding what's inside.

"We have learned a lot about how to breach these biological barriers safely and effectively, so we can apply some of the principles we learned from opening up the skin to opening up the blood-brain barrier and going into the brain," Karande said. "We are taking nature's own cues. We know how nature forms these barriers, and
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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