Computer Guided Brain Drug Delivery Could Have Impacts in Parkinson’s Disease and Beyond

According to a story from Parkinson’s News Today, a recent study describes the development of a new technology called computational mapping algorithms for neural drug delivery (COMMAND), which was designed with the ability to precisely deliver drugs to specific structures in the brain. The development of COMMAND has major implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and others.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a type of long term, progressive, degenerative illness that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms tend to develop over a period of years and primarily affect the movement ability and mental state of the patient. The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery, although there are a number of risk factors that have been identified. These factors include head injuries, pesticide exposure, and certain genetic variants and mutations. About 15 percent of patients have a close relative with the disease, suggesting some genetic connection. Symptoms include slowed movements, poor coordination, trouble walking, shaking, stiffness, abnormal posture, depression, anxiety, inhibited thinking, hallucinations, and dementia. Treatment may involve a number of medications, rehabilitation, and surgical operations. Survival rate varies, but most patients survive around a decade after getting diagnosed. To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, click here.

Targeting Specific Structures

In Parkinson’s disease, specific brain structures are altered which lead to the progression of symptoms. To regions of the brain that are potential targets for treatment are the substantia nigra and the striatum, which is a region found in the forebrain that plays a critical role in the voluntary control of movement.

Delivering drugs to the brain is always difficult because of the presence of the blood-brain barrier, which not all therapeutics can cross. Another consideration is the fragility of the brain; if a therapy causes unintended side effects or damage, the brain doesn’t have much ability to repair it. Current methods for delivering drugs to certain areas, such as an intracerebral catheter, haven’t demonstrated much success in testing; this is generally believed to be the result of insufficient coverage of the target structure.

The COMMAND technology aims to resolve these issues by optimizing drug delivery to maximize effect in the target area while reducing potential side effects to neighboring structures. The procedure utilizes a PET scan to identify sites for drug injection that best cover the area. 

Learn about the technology in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

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