Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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3D model of the blood-brain barrier will enable study of drug treatments for brain conditions like tumours

14 May 2023

Breaking Barriers

Like a red rope keeps the flow of visitors and their sticky fingers away from precious artwork, the blood-brain-barrier protects the vulnerable brain from potential pollution from substances circulating in the blood. Damage to this barrier is linked to many diseases, and the barrier itself can prevent treatments reaching the brain. To investigate its permeability and structure researchers have created a new replica of the system, combining all the cellular elements of the real thing with an elegantly simple see-saw setup that mimics the constant natural flow of blood past the surfaces. They then observed the impacts of low oxygen and glucose, a hallmark of stroke, and saw rapid changes in actin structures (red, clumping in the video during an hour of oxygen deprivation, indicated in green), and changes in electrical resistance. This platform is easily replicated, so will help investigations that may lead to better treatments for brain conditions like tumours.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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