You are viewing AANS Neurosurgeon Volume 25, Number 3, 2016. View our current issue, Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 25, Number 3, 2016

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Antidepressant May Enhance Drug Delivery to the Brain

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NIH rat suggests amitriptyline temporarily inhibits the blood-brain barrier, allowing drugs to enter the brain

New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that pairing the antidepressant amitriptyline with drugs designed to treat central nervous system diseases, enhances drug delivery to the brain by inhibiting the blood-brain barrier in rats. The blood-brain barrier serves as a natural, protective boundary, preventing most drugs from entering the brain. Although researchers caution that more studies are needed to determine whether people will benefit from the discovery, the new finding has the potential to revolutionize treatment for a whole host of brain-centered conditions, including epilepsy, stroke, human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), depression and others. The results are so promising that a provisional patent application has been filed for methods of co-administration of amitriptyline with central nervous system drugs. According to Ronald Cannon, PhD, staff scientist at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the biggest obstacle to efficiently delivering drugs to the brain is a protein pump called P-glycoprotein. Located along the inner lining of brain blood vessels, P-glycoprotein directs toxins and pharmaceuticals back into the body’s circulation before they pass into the brain.

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