Magnetic medicines treat brain tumours

23 August 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

lab–rat.jpgThe barrier between blood vessels and the brain may no longer limit the delivery of medicines to tumours, research on rats shows.

The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from viruses and other types of infection but also limits the delivery of medicines to treat brain tumours. Now scientists have found a new way to overcome this problem by combining two earlier approaches to produce a more effective treatment.

Ultrasound waves were used to temporarily disrupt the blood-brain barrier. While the barrier was open a strong magnetic field attracted medicine coated, magnetically charged nanoparticles towards the tumour, targeting the medicine to where it is needed.

The team tested the procedure on rats. One group was treated using the new procedure while the other received a normal injection into the bloodstream. Results showed tumour regions in the first group to have 20 times the concentration of medicine compared to rodents that did not receive the treatment.

Scientists hope that this technique could be used to treat all brain based diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. However, they will first need to see if it is possible to safely translate the study to humans, because disrupting the blood brain barrier can be dangerous.