If you ask any neurologist they will likely tell you that the blood brain barrier (BBB) has been a major hurdle in designing drugs that are meant to be delivered into the brain. Various brain diseases, including cancer, cannot be treated unless medication can cross this barrier. There have been a variety of attempts to surmount this challenge (e.g. packaging the drug into nanocapsules that can cross the barrier, like a trojan horse, if you will). Well, a recent study has perhaps found a much cheaper and effective way to deliver medication across the border: cannabidiol (CBD).
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According to a new study recently published in the journal, Molecular Pharmaceutics, researchers discuss a process by which CBDs are used to enhance the ability of these "trojan horse" molecules to pass through the BBB. The study, conducted by Dr. Ana I. Torres-Suárez and colleagues out of the Complutense University in Spain, used specialized lipid nanocapsules (LNCs) attached to CBD molecules, to produce a 6-fold increase in BBB penetration in both in vitro models of the BBB and in mice. This is compared to the process called G-Technology® (aka glutathione PEGylated liposomes) which is currently undergoing clinical trials.
In the current study, CBDs "decorate" lipid nanocapsules (LNCs). The researchers are not quite sure why CBDs would help an LNC cross the BBB, but they speculate that it has something to do with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system thought to maintain the homeostasis of several biological processes. Cannabinoids have no trouble crossing the BBB, and apparently, they can bring their LNC friends along with them.
It has been known for about a decade now that the ECS is involved in neuroprotection. Both endocannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2) help regulate the integrity of the BBB. They are involved in keeping the BBB tight. Although this has not been tested yet, to the best of our knowledge, the researchers speculate that cannabinoids, whether endo- or phyto-based, may serve as a key to pass the guards and pass through the BBB. By activating these receptors, CBDs may be allowed to slip through.
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Other than crossing the BBB, cannabinoids have been suggested as a treatment option for many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease. They also may be able to treat gliomas, the most common form of malignant brain tumors. Getting much-needed medication to the brain has always been a thorn in modern medicine's side. Attempts to engineer molecules filled with medication have been a tricky and time-consuming business. It may be that the answer is to make use of the BBB's own defense mechanisms (e.g, CB1 and CB2 receptors, potentially) against it through the use of phytocannabinoids like CBD to pass through naturally.
The news of this new study was originally published in Apple News.
Source: International Journal of Pharmaceuticals, Molecular Pharmaceutics, Journal of Drug Targeting, Neuromolecular Medicine, Recent Patents on CNS Discovery, Parkinson's Disease, Frontiers in Pharmacology, Neuropsychopharmacology, Apple News