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Can Loosening the Blood-Brain Barrier Make Way for Effective Treatments?

Scientists affiliated with the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program located at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada have successfully penetrated the blood-brain barrier using non-invasive focused ultrasound in order to deliver chemotherapy agents to malignant brain tumors. Providers of senior home care in Dallas explain what this means in terms of providing more effective drug treatment to those who are sick.

What Is the Blood-Brain Barrier?

The blood-brain barrier is a layer of tightly joined cells that line the blood vessels of the brain. This barrier acts like a brick wall to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the brain and inflicting damage. However, the natural blockage also prevents physicians from effectively targeting diseased tissue with certain medications. Finding a way through the barrier provides hope for the future treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors and Parkinson’s disease. 

What Did the Study Find?

The treatment that researchers developed was the result of infusing a patient’s blood with a chemotherapy medication along with microscopic gas bubbles. The scientists waited until the gas bubbles approached the blood-brain barrier vessels that were within close proximity to the tumor. Using focused ultrasound waves, they vibrated the gas bubbles, which loosened the cellular junctions that form the barrier. Once a temporary opening was created, the chemotherapy medication was able to flow into the brain and to the site of the tumor. 

What Does This Mean for Medicine?

The monumental breakthrough required two decades of research. Prior to the new method, physicians’ only other option was to inject medications directly into the brain, which could damage tissue or causes a hemorrhage or infection. The diuretic medication known as mannitol has been used to permeate the barrier as the drug is designed to enter the brain and reduce tissue swelling by encouraging fluid movement out of the brain. However, the medication also has the potential for dramatically lowering blood pressure and causing electrolyte imbalances. The innovative gas bubble and ultrasound technique does not damage tissues or pose any other known risks. In this way, the success of the studies will enable physicians to target specific areas in the brain when they need to treat different neurological disorders. 

This news is particularly meaningful to seniors with brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. If your senior loved one requires comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, or Dallas Alzheimer’s care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Whether your loved one needs daily reminders to take medication, transportation to medical treatments, or personal care assistance, our highly trained and trusted caregivers can ensure your loved one’s needs are met in the comfort and security of home. Call us today at (214) 253-8784 to learn how we can help your senior loved one. Be sure to schedule a no-obligation consultation for your loved one when you call.