The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, a cross-disciplinary research institute at Harvard University, announced that it is collaborating with multiple industry partners to discover more effective approaches to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for the treatment of brain diseases.
The institute mentioned that the initiative’s main goals are to identify transport target proteins in the BBB and develop antibody compounds that bind to these targets to facilitate the delivery of future therapeutics to the brain.
The collaborators are the pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, U.S.A.; Eisai Inc., Japan; and H. Lundbeck A/S, Denmark; They are said to be equally supporting this research effort and sharing in the program’s findings to inform their drug development activities.
The capillary vessels, and associated non-neuronal and neuronal cells contacting them on the brain side of the BBB form a highly selective security system in the human body that allows nutrients and oxygen to enter the brain from the blood circulation, and waste products including carbon dioxide to be eliminated from the brain. On average, less than 1% of a drug enters the brain from the bloodstream.
Targeted drug delivery is a method of delivering medication to a patient in a manner that increases the concentration of the medication in some parts of the body relative to others. Brain-targeted drug delivery systems to deliver therapeutics to the brain has remained a formidable challenge due to the blood-brain barrier.
Richard Hargreaves, Senior Vice President and Head of Neuroscience Thematic Research Center, said: “To more effectively treat brain diseases, it is critically important to find better strategies to transport drugs into the brain. However, the complexity of this problem makes it challenging for individual research institutions or companies to solve on their own. We strongly believe in this type of collaboration to develop tools for drug development and delivery. This collaboration offers a compelling opportunity to discover new approaches for drug delivery to the brain”.
Donald Ingber, Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, said: “The Wyss Institute’s interdisciplinary, cross-organizational collaboration model brings diverse key capabilities to bear on this extremely difficult problem of targeting therapies to the brain. Through this ambitious effort, we hope to develop new delivery approaches to help treat brain diseases for which there currently are no effective therapies.”