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The blood-brain barrier: A misunderstood key to finding life-saving cures to brain disease
Date:12/18/2007

ST. LOUIS -- An international team of scientists that includes a Saint Louis University researcher suggest several strategies to propel research for treatments of brain diseases that include multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers disease, obesity and stroke in the January issue of the Lancet Neurology.

Their review article, which focuses on surmounting obstacles posed by the blood-brain barrier (BBB), is available in an early online edition of the prestigious medical journal on Dec. 17.

The blood-brain barrier is a gate-keeping system of cells that protects the brain from toxins and lets in nutrients. Because it passes no judgment on which foreign substances are there to treat diseases and which are penetrating the brain to do harm, it locks all of them out. That makes getting drugs into the brain where they can do their work in treating brain diseases difficult.

A big part of our work is raising the awareness about the blood-brain barrier as an intimate part of the disease process, said William A. Banks, M.D., professor of geriatrics and pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and a member of the research team.

You cant get drugs into the brain or understand brain disease without understanding the blood-brain barrier, which is among our most significant recommendations for future research.

The blood-brain barrier is woefully misunderstood, said Banks, who also is a staff physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis.

The general theme of our review article is the blood-brain barrier is not a brick wall but a regulating interface between the brain and the rest of the body. Look at the brain as an island, where all raw materials have to be imported. The blood-brain barrier is the shipping and communications system that connects the island (the brain) to the rest of the world (the body).

Sometimes the blood-brain barrier lets in things that it shoul
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Contact: Nancy Solomon
solomonn@slu.edu
314-977-8017
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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