Research shows how snorting can deliver stem cells to the brain

(Stem Cells News image)

William H. Frey

William H. Frey

Scientists have pioneered a unique delivery system to administer therapeutic stem cells to the brain, by way of a simple nasal spray. Once the droplets containing the stem cells are snorted through the nose, the solution breaks through the blood-brain barrier, seeding the brain with the stem cells (…)

Scientists from the University of Minnesota and the University Hospital of Tuebingen, Germany conducted the research. The researchers administered the nasal spray containing rat stem cells to mice and within an hour, the rat stem cells were visible in the mice brains. The researchers then repeated the experiment using human stem cells and they also penetrated the blood-brain barrier within an hour.

It’s believed the stem cells enter the brain through the olfactory nerves through small holes in the cribriform plate, which is a thin horizontal part of the skull at the base of the brain.

The researchers further found that administering an enzyme called hyaluronidase, to the mice before having them snort the stem cells, enabled greater amounts of stem cells to travel to the brain.
The nasal delivery system has obvious benefits over drilling into a patient’s skull to administer the stem cells, which can cause inflammation and infection.

Lead researcher William Frey, an adjunct professor of pharmaceutics at Minnesota noted, “When you cut into the brain, that leads to an inflammatory response,” says Frey. “We’re hoping this will help. We didn’t see evidence that intranasal stem cell treatment caused inflammation.” (…)


If you had a brain malady that could be treated with stem cells, how would you like them delivered—by having surgeons cut open your skull to implant the cells, or by snorting them like a nasal decongestant?
Not really a hard choice, is it?

A University of Minnesota researcher has taken the first step toward making this kind of medical delivery service a reality by showing that when stem cells suspended in fluid are snorted, they rapidly migrate into the brain. William Frey, an adjunct professor of pharmaceutics, and his colleagues in Tuebingen, Germany, describe their work in a recent article in the European Journal of Cell Biology.

The method holds promise for delivering not only stem cells, but other therapeutic cells or drugs that can’t easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
The researchers had mice sniff tiny droplets containing adult stem cells from rats. An hour later, rat stem cells were clearly visible in the mice’s brains. To make sure the ability to penetrate the brain wasn’t limited just to those cells, they also had rats snort a second type of cells, from human brain tumors. These cells also penetrated the brain within an hour.

“We proved you could noninvasively deliver stem cells to the brain from the nose,” says Frey, who collaborated with principal investigator Lusine Danielyan of the University Hospital of Tuebingen and others. “We’ve shown these cells reach the brain intact.”
Frey and his co-inventors have filed a patent on their stem cell delivery technology (…)


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