There are several molecules that can slow down or even reverse neuron death. One example is naturally occurring brain protein, called glial-cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). It can protect and restore neurons, which can help patients recovering after stroke, people with drug addiction and suffering from Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.
The huge obstacle for developing therapies for the brain is delivery. Almost no potential drugs can make their way though the very tight mesh of endothelial cells lining the blood vessels in the brain, which is the blood-brain barrier.
Researchers have been trying to overcome this hurdle for quite a number of years. Now there’s a promising approach, developed by a “garage-band” biotech company, ArmaGen Technologies, located in Santa Monica, California. The founder, William Pardridge, and his collegues developed a molecule, called AGT-190, which acts like a Trojan Horse. It sneaks across the barrier that separates blood and brain tissue and delivers its contents – GDNF that has a possibility for regenerating or rejuvenating some of the sick cells in the brain. The company is waiting for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to give their permission for carrying out human safety tests.
Read more about AGT-190 and other approaches to deliver drugs to the brain.