Ischemic strokes can cause havoc in the brain, but early and properly directed treatment can mitigate a lot of damage. While there are a number of options to unclog blocked arteries, the potential to provide additional drug therapy remains mostly unexplored because of the difficulty in getting medications past the blood-brain barrier.
Now, researchers at the University of Manchester are reporting that they were able to pass liposomes across the tiny tears in the vasculature that occur during ischemic strokes. Liposomes are lipid vesicles, naturally produced by the body and easily made in the lab, that are only about 100 nanometers wide.
In tests on mice, they used in vivo real-time imaging and histological analysis to show that the liposomes successfully penetrated the blood-brain barrier and into the area injured by stroke.
“Liposomes are a tried and tested method of delivering drugs to the body – and are currently used to treat patients, for example, to target cancer drugs into the tumor at high doses which increases their concentration relative to other parts of the body,” said Dr Zahraa Al-Ahmady, the lead researcher of the study appearing in ACS Nano. “They are easy to manufacture and used across the NHS. But our research shows that liposomes have important implications for neurologists too.”
Now that this technology has been developed, it should be possible to press forward with assessing potential chemical compounds that may alleviate and potentially reverse damage caused by strokes.