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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £35 million a year

New model developed by our Centre of Excellence may help overcome the blood-brain barrier

Scientists from our Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth have helped provide a way to better understand how to enable drugs to enter the brain and how cancer cells make it past the blood-brain barrier.

Dr Zaynah Maherally and team at the University of Portsmouth have developed an optimised, realistic and workable model to mimic the blood-brain barrier.

The model, published in the FASEB Journal could pave the way for better, more efficient and reliable tests of drugs to treat brain diseases, including brain tumours.

Dr Maherally said: “The blood-brain barrier is strikingly complex and notoriously difficult for scientists to breach. Its role, to protect the brain, makes it difficult for most drugs to make their way into the brain to treat brain tumours.”

The researchers’ major goal was to develop a 3D all-human reproducible and reliable model of the blood-brain barrier using human cells in order to better simulate the human blood-brain barrier for the study of diseases and treatments.

Professor Geoff Pilkington, who leads the research group at Portsmouth, is delighted at the progress that’s been made.

He said: “This is the first real, 3D, all-human blood-brain barrier model and it’s hugely significant in our field.”

Research will now widen, he said, to better understand how cancers metastasize from breast and lung to the brain as well as evaluating nano-particle drug delivery and making opportunities to create temporary openings in the barrier to allow drugs to pass through into the brain.

Photo © Blood-Brain Barrier