Snorting stem cells, effective route to brain

August 14, 2009 at 6:21 pm (mad science, mutate)

Snorting can deliver cells to the brain, research shows

William Frey.
William Frey and his colleagues have found that “snorted” cells can bypass the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain.
Photo: Erika Gratz

By Deane Morrison

If you had a brain malady that could be treated with stem cells, how would you like them delivered—by having surgeons cut open your skull to implant the cells, or by snorting them like a nasal decongestant?

Not really a hard choice, is it?

A University of Minnesota researcher has taken the first step toward making this kind of medical delivery service a reality by showing that when stem cells suspended in fluid are snorted, they rapidly migrate into the brain. William Frey, an adjunct professor of pharmaceutics, and his colleagues in Tuebingen, Germany, describe their work in a recent article in the European Journal of Cell Biology.

The method holds promise for delivering not only stem cells, but other therapeutic cells or drugs that can’t easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
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