Researchers in Laval and Montreal score breakthrough in neurodegenerative disease treatment

Researchers from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Laval and Montreal said on Monday that they have managed to demonstrate that nanoparticles could be used to deliver drugs to the brain to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Researcher Jean-Michel Rabanel, a post-doctoral researcher working under the supervision of Professor Charles Ramassamy, said they are confident that their results will open important prospects for releasing drugs directly to the brain.

According to the INRS, this breakthrough finding would enable improved treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzmeimer and Parkinson, affecting large numbers of Canadians and Quebecers.

The blood-brain barrier is the main obstacle in treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson. Nanoparticles with specific properties could cross this barrier and be captured by neuronal cells.

“The blood-brain barrier filters out harmful substances to prevent them from freely reaching the brain,” explained Ramassamy, a pharmacologist. “But this same barrier also blocks the passage of drugs.”

Typically, high drug doses are required to get a small amount of a pharmaceutical into the brain. What remains in the bloodstream has significant side effects.

Often, this discomfort leads the patient to stop the treatment.  The use of nanoparticles, which encapsulate the drugs, would result in fewer collateral side effects while increasing brain efficiency.

Following several years of research on effective and safe nanoparticles, the research team intends to continue laboratory testing, targeting the delivery of active ingredients to other animal models with ultimate clinical applications.

An article, “Transport of PEGylated-PLA nanoparticles across a blood brain barrier model, entry into neuronal cells and in vivo brain bioavailability,” on their study was published in September 2020 in the renowned Journal of Controlled Release.