Brain's immune cells promising cellular target for therapeutics

September 08, 2020

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2020 -- Inspired by the need for new and better therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, Rutgers University researchers are exploring the link between uncontrolled inflammation within the brain and the brain's immune cells, known as microglia.

Most therapies for brain health disorders focus on the major cells of the nervous system: neurons. But microglia cells are emerging as a promising cellular target because of the prominent role they play in brain inflammation. In addition, microglial behavior can be engineered to rein in inflammation, which is caused by different factors, and the damage it causes.

In APL Bioengineering, from AIP Publishing, the group highlights the design considerations and benefits of creating therapeutic nanoparticles for carrying pharmacological factors directly to the sites of the microglia.

Microglia are essentially first responders to pathological changes within the brain and can readily clear out undesired and foreign substances.

"Emerging drugs and biological factors can be targeted and released in controlled ways within the brain if their nanoscale carriers can be engineered," said Prabhas V. Moghe, co-author on the paper. "We believe this field is ripe for technological, biological, and clinical breakthroughs."

The group's ultimate goal is to tamp down the uncontrolled activation of microglial inflammation.

"Within our lab at Rutgers, we are developing a new therapeutic strategy targeted to the microglia activated by the excessive deposition of the protein alpha-synuclein," Moghe said. "This will potentially address a major therapeutic barrier of microglial activation in neurodegenerative diseases."

Targeting microglia in this manner may open up avenues for the development of novel therapeutics.

"Studying nanoparticle interactions with microglia can guide the design of successful nanomedicine platforms that enable targeted delivery of drugs while minimizing off-target effects and system-level toxicity," Moghe said. "Considering the complex nature of neurodegenerative disorders, rather than solely focusing on therapies for neurons, it may be worth directing therapeutics to the mediator, microglia, whose functional restoration will protect neurons."
-end-
The article, "Microglia-targeting nanotherapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases," is authored by Nanxia Zhao, Nicola L. Francis, Hannah R. Calvelli, and Prahbas V. Moghe. It will appear in APL Bioengineering on Sept. 8, 2020 (DOI: 10.1063/5.0013178). After that date, it can be accessed at https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0013178.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

APL Bioengineering is an open access journal publishing significant discoveries specific to the understanding and advancement of physics and engineering of biological systems. See http://aip.scitation.org/journal/apb.

American Institute of Physics

Related Neurons Articles from Brightsurf:

Paying attention to the neurons behind our alertness
The neurons of layer 6 - the deepest layer of the cortex - were examined by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to uncover how they react to sensory stimulation in different behavioral states.

Trying to listen to the signal from neurons
Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a coaxial cable-inspired needle-electrode.

A mechanical way to stimulate neurons
Magnetic nanodiscs can be activated by an external magnetic field, providing a research tool for studying neural responses.

Extraordinary regeneration of neurons in zebrafish
Biologists from the University of Bayreuth have discovered a uniquely rapid form of regeneration in injured neurons and their function in the central nervous system of zebrafish.

Dopamine neurons mull over your options
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices.

Neurons thrive even when malnourished
When animal, insect or human embryos grow in a malnourished environment, their developing nervous systems get first pick of any available nutrients so that new neurons can be made.

The first 3D map of the heart's neurons
An interdisciplinary research team establishes a new technological pipeline to build a 3D map of the neurons in the heart, revealing foundational insight into their role in heart attacks and other cardiac conditions.

Mapping the neurons of the rat heart in 3D
A team of researchers has developed a virtual 3D heart, digitally showcasing the heart's unique network of neurons for the first time.

How to put neurons into cages
Football-shaped microscale cages have been created using special laser technologies.

A molecule that directs neurons
A research team coordinated by the University of Trento studied a mass of brain cells, the habenula, linked to disorders like autism, schizophrenia and depression.

Read More: Neurons News and Neurons Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.