Latest research carried out at the University of Manchester has offered a new hope for patients in the early stages of a stroke. Researchers have found that using tiny vesicles called liposomes, which are made up of lipids, can form pouch-like structures referred to as caveolae, which can penetrate plasma membranes of cells.
Liposomes are made up of nano-particles which are 15,000 times smaller than a pinhead, and can mediate through a damaged blood-brain barrier following a stroke. The brain is the only organ to have this one-of-a-kind protective system that doesn’t allow the entry of foreign substances past the blood-brain barrier. On the other hand, it also blocks lifesaving drugs which have the ability to treat a range of complications.
Prior to this study, liposomes have been used as effective method of artificially carrying drugs or other substances into tissues. Using this theory, UoM researchers have manipulated liposomes which are just 100 nanometers in diameter to translocate and deliver drugs past tightly packed endothelial cells in the brain, thus preventing any further brain damage to the patient.
Scientists have also been able to generate microscopic pictures of mouse brain tissue using a combination of in vivo real-time imaging and histological analysis, demonstrating the use of the nano-material as a viable transporter.
Published in the journal ACS Nano, this exciting research could potentially allow doctors to be able to protect brain tissue in the acute phases of a stroke, protecting neurons from becoming damaged, therefore decreasing morbidity and mortality rates in patients.
Stuart Allan Professor of Neuroscience from the University of Manchester said: “The discovery that nano-materials may be able to facilitate the treatment of stroke is exciting: scientists have long been grappling with the difficulties of treating brain injuries and diseases.
“The brain-blood barrier is a major frontier in neurology, so the prospect of being able to cross it may have applications to other conditions as well – though clearly, much more work needs to be done.”
The potential of this study could be groundbreaking for the NHS, as Dr Zahraa Al-Ahmady, Honorary Research Fellow at UoM stated that: “They are easy to manufacture and use across the NHS. But our research also shows that liposomes have important implications for neurologists too.”