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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Mouse Studies Show Minimally Invasive Route Can Accurately Administer Drugs to Brain

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In experiments in mice, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have developed a technique that facilitates the precise placement of cancer drugs at their intended targets in the brain. This approach pairs a technique that guides a catheter through the brain’s arteries with positron emission technology (PET) scans to precisely place cancer drugs at their intended targets in the brain. If future studies show this image-guided drug delivery method is safe and effective in humans, the researchers say it could improve outcomes for historically difficult-to-treat and often lethal brain cancers, such as glioblastoma.

“Brain disorders are often much harder to treat than disorders elsewhere in the body, not only because of the hard flat skullbones that encase the brain complicating surgical access, but also because of the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s sophisticated defense system, denying access to toxins and the majority of drugs,” says Miroslaw Janowski, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. “Cancer drugs are often administered as pills or intravenous injections, which are easy and comfortable for patients, but only a tiny portion of these drugs reach the brain tumor. Most of it accumulates in other organs, often leading to serious side effects. The intra-arterial approach solves this problem by allowing us to deliver highly concentrated treatments directly and selectively to the tumor,” says Piotr Walczak, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a co-investigator on this project.

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