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Stem Cells Mimic the Blood-Brain Barrier
Medical researchers have long searched for a method of circumventing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in order to more effectively deliver therapeutic compounds to the central nervous system (CNS) and brain. Now, a team of scientists from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a step-by-step approach to recreate brain endothelial cells in the lab, which will allow researchers to more easily study drug transport across the BBB.
The BBB is a network of blood vessels that restrict mass transfer of many molecules, especially potentially dangerous ones, from the blood to brain tissue and the CNS. It is composed mainly of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs). Proteins embedded in the endothelial cell membranes form tight junctions between adjacent cells that restrict diffusion in the gaps between cells, which protects the brain and prevents toxins from entering the brain and CNS. Although the BBB is an important line of defense, it also restricts the delivery of drugs that might make effective therapies for neurological conditions.
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