A new technology from Nextage Therapeutics Ltd. is being touted as allowing cannabis molecules to reach the brain directly, an advancement that could drive forward the development of treatments for people suffering from a host of diseases.
Based on research conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the ability for weed molecules to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) could reduce the necessary dosage of medical marijuana and minimize side effects caused by treatments spreading to other organs, according to an article in the Jerusalem Post.
A variety of treatments could be advanced for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, brain cancer and chronic pain, the article suggests.
The BBB is “is a barrier between the brain’s blood vessels (capillaries) and the cells and other components that make up brain tissue,” explains information from the University of Queensland. So in the same way the skull offers protection from physical damage, the BBB “provides a defence against disease-causing pathogens and toxins that may be present in our blood.”
Although the technology was designed with cannabinoids in mind, it does not preclude being used with other chemicals as well.
The plan is to patent the new technology before negotiating with companies that want to use the technology to develop treatments for brain diseases.
With regard to Alzheimer’s disease, “BBB drug delivery is the limiting factor in the future development of new therapeutics for the brain,” notes a 2020 article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
“Historically, the BBB has posed significant challenges to drug development for central nervous system (CNS) diseases by preventing most drugs from reaching the brain in therapeutically relevant concentrations,” according to a statement earlier this year from U.S.-based Denali Therapeutics Inc., which is developing its own technology to cross the BBB for neurodegenerative diseases.
The company claims that its technology “enables broad distribution and improved exposure levels of therapeutic proteins throughout the brain.”
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