Rabies Virus Protein Helps Send Drugs To The Brain

Using a protein produced by the rabies virus, scientists in China have developed a nanoparticle which could lead to better treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

AsianScientist (May 10, 2018) – A research group in China has used a protein from the rabies virus to enhance drug delivery to the brain. Their findings, which have implications for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, are published in ACS Nano.

Parkinson’s disease involves the slow degeneration of the brain cells that control movement. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, a common feature of the illness is the accumulation of iron in neurons, inflicting damage and cell death.

Some doctors are now using a metal-grabbing compound called deferoxamine to sop up the excess iron in patients, but high doses are needed due to the drug’s limited capacity to enter the brain, bringing on serious side effects. To lower the effective dose, a research group in China took advantage of a key part of the rabies virus to usher deferoxamine into the brain.

To get where it needs to go, the rabies virus must first trick the nervous system and cross the blood-brain barrier. The virus achieves this with glycoprotein 29, which binds to a brain cell receptor. Hence, the researchers attached glycoprotein 29 to a nanoparticle encapsulating deferoxamine. They then injected the iron-grabbing nanoparticles into mouse models of Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers observed that the iron levels in the mouse brains dropped, thereby reducing the brain damage and reversing the disease symptoms, without noticeable side effects. Because all of the components in the therapeutic agent are already approved for use in the clinic, the researchers are looking to commence clinical trials in human subjects.

The article can be found at: You et al. (2018) Targeted Brain Delivery of Rabies Virus Glycoprotein 29-Modified Deferoxamine-Loaded Nanoparticles Reverses Functional Deficits in Parkinsonian Mice.


Source: American Chemical Society; Photo: Pexels.
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