Researchers receive 20 million kr. to smuggle medicine past the blood brain barrier – University of Copenhagen

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14 March 2017

Researchers receive 20 million kr. to smuggle medicine past the blood brain barrier

GrantS

The Lundbeck Foundation awards further DKK 20 million to the Research Initiative on Brain Barriers and Drug Delivery for the continued development of new strategies to deliver large drug molecules to the diseased brain.

A research team headed by Martin Lauritzen at UCPH in collaboration with Thomas Lars Andresen at DTU, Morten Schallburg Nielsen at AU, Birger Brodin at UCPH and Torben Moos at AAU has been awarded DKK 20 million from The Lundbeck Foundation. The grant is given for the group to continue their work on new strategies to take large molecules from the blood into the brain. The first grant of DKK 40 million was installed in 2014 and the group has reported promising results already after two years of work, which has lead The Lundbeck Foundation to grant the new funding.

The project is divided into two parts. The first part is examining the properties of the barrier that separates blood from brain and test strategies for targeting drugs to the surface of the brain blood vessels and mechanisms to induce transient opening of the barrier. This will facilitate the transfer of large molecules, such as therapeutic antibodies, across the barrier. The second part is focused on developing new nanoparticles that, after passage through the barrier, can release large amounts of therapeutic molecules in the microenvironment of diseased brain cells. The research team has already established models and protocols that will facilitate the investigation of how large molecules are shipped into the brain.

The extended funding was awarded after The Lundbeck Foundation received highly positive external peer reviews stressing the added value of the collaboration and the unique character of the cooperative research.

“We were very content with the reported achievements of the Research Initiative and decided for continued support to this flagship-project. We still know very little about the brain barrier and how it works, but this research will give us important answers and hopefully improve the treatment of braindisorders in the future”, says Anne-Marie Engel, Research Director at The Lundbeck Foundation.

''The transfer of potentially useful therapeutic agents that may be clinically effective in Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease requires new strategies for delivery of drugs. This in turn requires an in depth understanding of the dynamic properties of the blood-brain barrier that we may use to achieve our goal. Our long-term perspective is to overcome the restrictions imposed by the barrier and to be able to deliver large, complex biologically-based drugs or pro-drugs efficiently to diseased regions of the human brain'', says Director Professor Martin Lauritzen at Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet.

''Delivery of neuroprotective macromolecules in relevant clinical scenarios in the right place, in the right amount and at the right time is a major goal in translational and clinical neurology.  The complementary models and methods used by our team are unique and expected to have great impact on the treatment of brain diseases and to mitigate suffering for patients and relatives'' says Professor Martin Lauritzen.