Adenosine used to break through BBB, deliver large-molecule drugs

Another set of researchers are knocking on the door of the blood-brain barrier, trying to get at the prize inside of better treatments for Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and cancers of the central nervous system. This time it's a group of Cornell researchers who say they have found a way to make those walls come tumbling down. One word: adenosine. It's a molecule produced by the body that can control the entry of large molecules into the brain. Sounds like something to harness as a drug-delivery device.

The researchers say that when adenosine receptors are activated on blood-brain barrier cells, a gateway to the inside opens up. The Cornell researchers also said an FDA-approved drug called Lexiscan, which is an adenosine-based drug used in heart imaging, can also open up the BBB.

"Utilizing adenosine receptors seems to be a more generalized gateway across the barrier," said lead author Margaret Bynoe. "We are capitalizing on that mechanism to open and close the gateway when we want to."

In research on laboratory animals, the Cornell team succeeded in getting all sorts of large molecules through that hard-to-penetrate barrier--such as dextrans, and an anti-beta amyloid antibody. Next, the researchers will explore using the same adenosine receptor technique to delivery brain-cancer drugs.

- read the Cornell University release