Science-- there's something for everyone

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Treating brain cancer with nose drops

Tomotako Shingaki and a team of Japanese scientists tried a novel way to administer anti-cancer drugs to fight brain tumors. They used nasal sprays. So far, the results in mice have been promising.

Brain tumors are difficult to treat chemically because many compounds are prevented from entering the brain by the ‘blood-brain barrier’. This barrier keeps microorganisms or large molecules from passing into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain. For example, methotrexate, a common anti-cancer drug, does not readily enter the brain when administered into the blood stream.

Shingaki and his colleagues decided to see whether the blood-brain barrier could be bypassed by medicines administered via the nose. To that end, they sprayed methotrexate into the nostrils of rats suffering from brain tumors. Rats receiving the nasal treatment had their tumors reduced by almost a third compared to rats given the medicine intravenously.

If the results are the same in humans, the authors believe that this new route could be used for a variety of medicines that normally are prevented from entering the brain.