Nano Drug Delivery for Parkinson’s
May 7, 2014
Bioscience Technology — According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, as many as a million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a central nervous system (CNS) disorder resulting from loss of cells in various parts of the brain. Others have difficult-to-treat HIV in the central nervous system. What do these diseases have in common?
In healthy brains, the “blood-brain barrier” — a tight protective junction around the CNS capillaries — prevents poisons from reaching the brain by separating circulating blood from the brain’s extracellular fluid. At the same time, it keeps drugs from passing into the brain and reaching specific targets to fight CNS diseases.
“Drug delivery to the brain is the current hot topic for pharma, as pharma seeks methods to deliver proprietary drugs into the brain, reformulate drugs used for one indication for another, and develop new therapeutics for unmet medical needs, especially for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases,” according to Susan Rosenbaum, J.D., founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Lauren Sciences LLC, a privately held biotechnology company in New York.
Lauren Sciences signed a licensing agreement with BGU’s technology transfer company, BGN Technologies, to develop a targeted drug delivery system invented at BGU called V-Smart™. This drug delivery technology, comprised of synthetic nanoscale structures, allows oral medications to pass through biological membranes, target sites in the brain and selectively release the drugs.
The interdisciplinary team of Prof. Emeritus Eliahu Heldman of the University’s Clinical Biochemistry Department, Dr. Sarina Grinberg of BGU’s Department of Chemistry and Dr. Charles Linder of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering created the technology using microscopic, bubble-like structures called vesicles.
The nano-sized vesicles are made of specifically designed structures called bolaamphiphiles. The synthetic sacs, which are highly stable, control the release of the drugs that pass through biological barriers and target the place where the drug will be released in the brain. Researchers are anticipating that the delivery system will reduce side effects by making the medications more available at target locations.
“Our goal is to target, protect and restore dopaminergic neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that deteriorate during the course of Parkinson’s disease, as well as to address other CNS disorders such as HIV, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Gaucher, amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and others,” says BGU’s Prof. Heldman, who also serves as chief scientific officer of Lauren Sciences.
Lauren Sciences is developing V-Smart™ therapeutics for central nervous system and other diseases. The company is currently under contract with pharmaceutical companies and institutions for V-Smart™ pilot projects.
Prof. Heldman also said that BGU and Lauren Sciences had recently been awarded research grants, two from the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to develop systemic, targeted delivery of GDNF (glial-derived naturetic factor) across the blood-brain barrier for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and the other from the Campbell Foundation for delivery of the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir for treatment of neuro-HIV.