Improved nanoparticles could help deliver drugs to brain

Johns Hopkins researchers say they are moving closer to developing a drug-delivery system able to overcome some of the challenges posed by brain cancer and possibly other brain ailments, Johns Hopkins Medicine announced today.

Johns Hopkins bioengineers have designed nanoparticles that can successfully penetrate deep into the brain, which is notoriously difficult to treat. The research is detailed in the Aug. 29 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

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After surgery to remove a brain tumor, standard treatment protocols include the application of chemotherapy directly to the surgical site to kill any cells left behind that could not be surgically removed. To date, this method of preventing tumor recurrence is only moderately successful, in part, because it is hard to administer a dose of chemotherapy high enough to sufficiently penetrate the tissue to be effective and low enough to be safe for the patient and healthy tissue.

To overcome this dosage challenge, engineers designed nanoparticles—about one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair—that deliver the drug in small, steady quantities over a period of time.

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