The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is the primary reason that so few medicines exist to treat brain conditions. Drugs that can attack tumors elsewhere usually can’t penetrate the defenses of the BBB, so figuring out how to get through it is important for the development of future drugs and other therapies. There have been attempts to reproduce the functionality of the BBB, but these have been somewhat basic. Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a model of the BBB that’s unlike any other, and that may help in the study of neurological conditions and in finding ways of treating them.
Essentially, the team published an instructional guide on how to apply small molecules to stimulate human pluripotent stem cells to develop into brain endothelial cells and form a close mimic of the BBB. “Other approaches require mixing and co-culture of other cell types,” said Eric Shusta, a chemical and biological engineering professor at UW Madison. “This will enable the non-expert to deploy the model. It’s an off-the-shelf recipe.”
Because a mimic of the BBB can be constructed from a given person’s own cells, it will allow scientists to study unique pathologies and how to address them. It will certainly provide a useful tool to figure out what therapeutic molecules can potentially get through the barrier.
Flashbacks: Scientists Built Blood-Brain Barrier On-a-Chip to Help Develop Neuro Drugs, Understand Brain Diseases; Microfluidic Device Mimics the Blood-Retinal Barrier; Focused Ultrasound and Microbubbles Push Drugs Across Blood-Brain Barrier; First Alzheimer’s Patient Treated with Focused Ultrasound to Open Blood-Brain Barrier; Temporarily Opening Up the Blood-Brain Barrier Using Ultrasound Waves;
Study in Science Advances: Human pluripotent stem cell–derived brain pericyte–like cells induce blood-brain barrier properties