Bioavailable drugs will soon emerge for treating Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases as a researcher at Montreal University develops an in vitro model for reproducing the complexity of a whole brain.
The blood-brain barrier is an extremely tight structure, maybe even too tight. Certainly, it prevents the passage of bacteria, viruses and all dangerous foreign molecules between the blood and the brain, but it also interferes with the delivery of drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is estimated that only 2% of therapeutic substances are able to cross it freely.
In the hope of better circumventing this barrier, researchers are studying it using models created from cells taken from human or animal brains and which have been transformed in order to keep them forever. However, these models have many disadvantages, particularly with regard to the reproducibility of the results.
In Vitro model for brain complexity
This is what prompted Valérie Gaëlle Roullin, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Montreal, to develop an in vitro model that is intended to be more reliable by better reproducing the complexity of a whole brain.
The researcher and her team therefore used cells extracted directly from the brains of mice to generate an unprecedented model in just 10 days, whereas it normally takes weeks to achieve this. Moreover, this model is more accessible, since the protocol to carry it out requires little specialized analysis equipment, among others.
Drugs crossing blood-brain barrier
Ultimately, this new cell model is 80% reliable in determining what happens to the blood-brain barrier when drugs attempt to cross it under healthy conditions, compared to 40% for pre-existing models.
In addition, it makes it possible to challenge the idea that inflammation modifies the permeability of this structure, thus notably modifying the passage of therapeutic molecules. Thanks to this work, a new generation of more bioavailable drugs could emerge in the more or less long term.
This report was first published by les Fonds de recherche du Quebec.