|Dino Lirios |||Oct 24, 2014 07:20 AM EDT|
The blood-brain barrier in humans has been opened for the first time.
The blood-brain barrier is a network of cells separating the brain from the body and preventing harmful toxins and chemicals from coming into the blood stream and brain tissue,
The barrier is vital protection for the brain but scientists and doctors are happy about the new discovery since new forms of medication can now be delivered to previously inaccessible parts of the human brain.
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Neurodegenerative diseases and cancers are just a few of the diseases penetration of the blood-brain barrier can address and treat.
Until now, the barrier has only been opened in animals.
CarThera, a medical start-up company in France, was the first to successfully open and close the barrier on demand with assistance from ultrasound brain implants and an injection of microbubbles.
Michael Canney, a neuroscientist at CarThera, reported his findings at the Focused Ultrasound symposium last week.
Canney and his team were treating Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Surgery is usually needed to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy drugs are then given to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
A tumor in the brain always makes the blood-brain barrier leak, which allows for medicine to seep through.
Canney thought that if more of the chemo drugs could seep through, more of the cancer could be targeted and taken care of.
In order to do so, surgeons inserted a tiny ultrasound brain implant into a patient's skull. They injected microbubbles afterwards to counter the ultrasound imaging.
Ultrasound pulses vibrated as they collided with the bubbles. This made them push apart the cells of the blood-brain barrier.
An MRI scan confirmed the microbubbles were crossing through the barrier. The team was able to keep the barrier open for as much as six hours. This can be used to deliver more drugs into the brain.
Canney says their discovery will have a significant impact on getting rid of tumors.
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