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Nanowired Drugs for Treating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases

Millions of Americans suffer from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Researchers have identified new treatments, such as cerebrolysin, which are promising, but present clinical approaches are ineffective as critical concentrations of the drug dissipate within the body prior to reaching the central nervous system and brain.

Photo by Eric Pipkin, University Relations Asya Ozkizilcik, University of Arkansas

Researchers addressed this problem by focusing on different delivery vehicles for sustained and targeted drug discharge. An effective, targeted approach would prevent the need for inefficient, high dosages that lead to adverse side effects.

Biomedical engineers have performed experiments with nanomaterials as an approach to targeted delivery in recent years. Under the direction of Ryan Tian, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Doctoral Student Asya Ozkizilcik has enhanced the nanowiring of drugs for a global team of researchers who are currently working on a new method for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Recently, at Neuroscience 2017, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in Washington, D.C., Ozkizilcik, on behalf of the global research team, delivered two presentations on nanowired delivery of cerebrolysin in neuropathological models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The research carried out by the team was selected as being newsworthy from a pool of almost 14,000 abstracts. Their research was also incorporated in the Society’s Hot Topics book.

Ozkizilcik worked with titanate, which refers to a bioceramic material made from titanium dioxide. Titanate has a number of advantages. Its nanowires are chemically inert and thus do not interact with biological components. Besides biocompatibility, the nanowires are considered to be resistant to corrosion in biological fluids, which is perfect for sustained, in vivo drug discharge without harming cells or tissues.

Ozkizilcik produced the titanate nanowires in an autoclave treatment and then loaded cerebrolysin onto the nanowires. Despite the fact that detailed mechanisms are unclear, the nanoparticles may extend the intact delivery of cerebrolysin all the way to blood-brain barrier, where high concentrations of the drug are then discharged into the brain. The drug’s efficiency was tested on rat models with co-administration of mesenchymal stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells have been employed for developing therapeutics for different autoimmune and other diseases.

Ozkizilcik’s research is part of the global team’s wider goal of finding a more effective treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Efficiency of this treatment on a Parkinson’s disease model after traumatic brain injury has been demonstrated by the team.

We believe titanate nanowires could be considered as potential drug delivery tools for neurodegenerative diseases and may be translated into clinical use in future.

Asya Ozkizilcik, Doctoral Student

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