Blood-Brain Barrier

Researchers Develop Implant Sensors to Open Blood-Brain Barrier


Engineers from UConn are now successful in designing a biodegradable and non-toxic medication device. This device can aid in moving medication from the blood vessels to the inner brain tissue. This route is conventionally difficult to maneuver because of our body’s immune system. The research paper about the innovation is now featuring in the PNAS journal.

Blood vessels inside the brain have tight cell lines. This system thus forms a so-called blood-brain barrier. This blood-brain barrier keeps off the toxins and bacteria from the brain itself. However, the same barrier also restricts the inflow of medication for diseases such as cancer.

Breaking the Blood-Brain Barrier through Ultrasound

One of the engineers working on the project, Thanh Nguyen, believes that an effective and safe way to open the barrier is to use ultrasound. These ultrasound waves focus on the target area and then vibrate the cells in the blood vessels. They can vibrate these cell linings enough to open up transient cracks inside the blood-brain barrier. These cracks are big enough for the medication to move through. However, the present ultrasound technology needs several ultrasound sources lining around a patient’s skull. Then, using an MRI machine these waves to focus on the target area and open it up. However, this process is very bulky and difficult to carry out. Moreover, it is also very expensive considering the setup whenever the person needs medication.

UConn engineers are thus trying to address this issue and have come up with an implant device that can do ultrasound locally inside the brain. They are using a biodegradable polymer – poly L-lactic acid (PLLA) – for creating piezoelectric nanofibers. These nanofibers will allow researchers to create a biodegradable implant sensor. This sensor can then determine the intra-organ pressure as well as work as an ultrasonic transducer.

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