98 percent of all potential pharmaceutical agents are prevented from reaching the Central Nervous System directly, due to the blood-brain barrier, which also keeps many harmful toxins from affecting our brain.

Inspired by recent advances in human endoscopic trans-nasal skull-based surgical techniques, investigators in the department of Otology & Laryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School & at the Biomedical Engineering Department of Boston University, worked together in developing an animal model of this technique, to use in evaluating trans-mucosal permeability, for the purpose of direct drug delivery into the brain.

The researchers using a mouse model developed a novel method of creating a semi-permeable window in the blood-brain barrier, using purely autologous tissues, to allow for higher molecular weight drug delivery to the CNS. They demonstrated for the first time that these membranes are capable of delivering molecules to the brain which are up to 1,000-times larger than those excluded by the blood-brain barrier.

“Since this is a proven surgical technique which is known to be safe and well tolerated, this data suggests that these membranes may represent the first known method to permanently bypass the blood-brain barrier using the patient’s own tissue,” Dr. Bleier said. “This method may open the door for the development of a variety of new therapies for neurodegenerative and CNS disease. “The development of this model enables us to perform critical preclinical testing of novel therapies for neurological and psychiatric diseases.”