The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is the area of the brain that separates circulating blood from the fluid in the central nervous system (CNS). It helps protect the brain from common bacterial infections while allowing fat-soluble molecules like oxygen and carbon dioxide through and has played a pivotal role in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The difficulties through the years has been due to scientists having to use the controversial mouse-model or having to wait until those with MS have donated their brains to science; so having this very real model is bound to change up research in very good ways.
“There has been such incredible findings lately for people like us and therapies for this disease can only get better because of this,” says Sierra Blankenship of Lima. “For them to be able to make a real life model of something that has been so difficult researching and studying, I just can't imagine what they are going to be able to do next."
These researchers were able to work embryonic and artificially derived stem-cells (pluripotent stem-cells) into endothelial cells that make up the lining of blood vessels. The endothelial cells are spaced tightly together with just 'enough' room to allow nutrients through, but not enough room to let bacteria or viruses, through.
This remarkable ability of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's researchers to recreate the BBB in a laboratory dish will have implications all across the medical spectrum, not just for MS, and all in very good ways.
As a matter of fact UW-Madison professor Sean Palecek says, “The cells you create will carry the genetic information of the condition you want to study” and for diseases like MS, this will help researchers find ways for medicines to make it through the BBB thereby making therapies work better for patients.
Because MS therapies, like injectables such as Rebif or Copaxone, are not able to penetrate the BBB and there have been questions regarding whether these therapies lose effectiveness over time, being able to replicate the BBB can only introduce even more effective therapies for those with MS.
These replicated cells “exhibit both the active and passive regulatory qualities of those cells that make up the capillaries of the intact brain” and they believe this could create ways for scientists and researchers to help victims of stroke, screen drugs and even help developmental biologists see how the barrier “co-develops with the brain.”
An all-around exciting advancement for the medical community!
Sources: http://www.answers.com/topic/blood-brain-barrier; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071218101237.htm; University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012, June 24). Blood-brain barrier building blocks forged from human stem cells. ScienceDaily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120624134823.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/breaking-through-blood-brain-barrier-multiple-81...
For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chapter can be reached at: 401 Tomahawk Drive, Maumee, OH or at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Google Maps.
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