The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a marvelous piece of evolutionary engineering designed to keep the inside of your skull pristinely clean by segregating the nervous and circulatory systems. The downside to this nearly impermeable membrane is that it is as adept at blocking therapeutic molecules as it is against harmful chemicals and microbes. However, a team from Canada's National Research Council (NRC) believe they've finally found the key that unlocks the body's Fort Knox. They're called "single domain antibodies" (SDA) -- molecular fragments capable of binding to larger molecules -- and they reportedly trick the BBB into thinking that most any molecule they're attached to is copacetic. So instead of having to wrap disease fighting medicines in carrier molecules like microscopic Trojan Horses, as has been the preferred method for the past two decades, these single domain antibodies act more like molecular security badges instead.
Developed as part of the NRC's Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers (TBBB) program, "It really opens the possibilities to use many different types of therapeutics for different diseases that we couldn't really use before unless we inject them directly into the brain which is highly invasive," Dr. Danica Stanimirovic, TBBB's scientific lead told Motherboard. Unfortunately however, the research is still at a very early stage and clinical trials aren't expected to commence for at least two years, maybe as long as a decade.
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