Blood Brain Barrier: Possible Key to Finding MS Cures

A team of scientists consisting of international specialists have suggested a number of strategies in looking for treatments for a number of brain diseases including multiple sclerosis as well as Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. One of the possible strategies that they found concerns the blood-brain barrier. The team believes that raising awareness in the study of the blood-brain barrier as an integral part of the disease process may someday help in finding a treatment for a variety of brain diseases, including multiple sclerosis.

The blood-brain barrier acts as the gate-keeper in the cells that protects the brain from toxins from the blood and lets in essential nutrients. The blood-brain barrier never chooses which foreign substances enter into the brain so it lock al of them out. Although acting as a safety measure for the brain, it can also lock out certain drugs from getting into the brain, making treatment of brain diseases difficult.

"The blood-brain barrier is woefully understood", so says William Banks M.D., a professor of geriatrics, pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and also a member of the international research team. "You can’t get drugs into the brain or understand brain disease without understanding the blood-brain barrier, which is among our most significant recommendations for future research."

The team of scientists looks at the blood-brain barrier not as a brick wall that stops toxins but as a regulating interface between the brain and the rest of the body. There are times that the blood-brain barrier allows certain substances to pass through that shouldn’t and blocking others that should. Understanding the blood-brain barrier and how it works can help scientists understand certain brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Much of Dr. Bank’s work revolves on understanding the function of the blood-brain barrier in the immune system. Bank’s further explained that the cells that make up the blood-brain barrier help the brain and the immune system communicate with each other. Damage to that communication system may affect the development of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Changes that happen in the blood-brain barrier could shed light also into the injuries to the central nervous system as well as in the growth of tumors. Further understanding of the blood-brain barrier may require the use of state-of-the-art imaging devices to closely examine how the blood-brain barrier and the central nervous system interact.


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