One of the impediments to treating a number of neurological disorders ranging from Parkinson’s disease to brain tumors is how to get drugs past the blood-brain barrier. The barrier is designed to admit only nutrients necessary to keep the brain functioning and to screen out all other substances, including, unfortunately, medicines that might help an ailing brain.
According to Geek Wire, a biotechnology firm called Impel NeuroPharma has gotten $36 million in investment money to develop a drug delivery system called Precision Olfactory Delivery or POD, which bypasses the blood-brain barrier entirely. The device does this by inserting the drugs up the nose, where the olfactory nerves go directly to the brain. Hitherto, the pathway has been too far up the nose to be accessed quickly. Impel NeuroPharma believes that it has solved that problem.
The company is also developing a number of medications that can be delivered by the POD to treat a variety of ailments including chronic pain, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Impel NeuroPharma claims that the new drug delivery system is not only low cost but non-invasive and can be disposed of after every use. The ability to treat severe neurological diseases using a cheap procedure would be a boon to patients and doctors alike. More clinical trials are expected to begin in 2017.
Treatment of neurological disorders is one of the last frontiers of modern medicine. The human brain is the seat of human consciousness, and anything that attacks its smooth functioning can impact the very selves of patients. Gaining the ability to intervene in disorders such as Alzheimer’s will help doctors preserve that sense of self by keeping the brain functioning.
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