Trojan Horse breaks through blood-brain barrier

Here's a breakthrough with two code phrases that always gets our attention: "blood-brain barrier" and "Trojan Horse." The former is a big headache for researchers looking for a way to delivery medication for brain injuries, and the latter is a sneaky solution to many drug-delivery problems.

Scientists, writing in ACS' Molecular Pharmaceutics, say they've successfully used a Trojan Horse method to sneak the stroke medication erythropoietin through the blood-brain barrier. It also could help people with traumatic head injuries, Parkinson's disease, and other chronic brain disorders, they said.

William Pardridge and colleagues explain that erythropoietin is a protective protein that has engendered great medical interest for its potential in protecting brain cells cut off from their normal blood supply by a stroke, or brain attack. Tests, however, show that erythropoietin, like other drugs, cannot penetrate the blood-brain-barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Other proteins, however, can penetrate the barrier, and the scientists decided to test one of them as a Trojan Horse to sneak in erythropoietin.

The researchers found an antibody that can go through the blood-brain barrier and linked it to erythropoietin to make a hybrid protein. Tests showed that the approach worked in laboratory mice, with the hybrid protein successfully penetrating the blood-brain barrier. The advance will allow scientists to begin testing erythropoietin's effects on mice with simulated stroke and other brain disorders.

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