Less than five percent of drugs can cross the barrier between the blood and brain.  However, scientists are developing a new way to deliver drugs so they can cross the barrier to protect brain cells after stroke. The technology may also become useful for treating traumatic brain injuries.
The Mystery of the Blood-Brain Barrier
No one fully understands how the blood-brain barrier works. Scientists theorize that tiny blood vessels called capillaries might be blocking the drugs. Brain capillaries have different qualities than those found elsewhere in the body. They have thicker linings, are packed together more tightly, and have special cells surrounding them that seem to regulate which chemicals can pass.
The Brain’s Defenses
The blood-brain barrier sends out proteins that pump foreign molecules away from the brain. Yet, the barrier allows the molecules we need for brain function to cross. Because of the barrier, many drugs that might help treat or prevent brain damage cannot reach the brain. Scientists believe that a new delivery system could overcome the brains defenses.
Researchers know that some molecules can cross the blood-brain barrier. It blocks one potentially beneficial protein, erythropoietin (EPO), from entering. EPO is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production.  In a “Trojan Horse” experiment on mice, scientists successfully created a hybrid protein by attaching EPO to an antibody that could pass through the barrier. 
The new drug delivery system allows proteins, small molecules, and antibodies to cross the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system. The treatment could let doctors try drugs that have been previously ineffective because of the barrier.
Why Brain Injury Patients Need a Better System
Today, there are few ways to deliver drugs to the brain if the blood-brain barrier blocks them. Doctors must give patients massive doses of medicine, implant synthetic polymer chemical wafers during surgery, or use a catheter positioned through the skull. The side effects of large doses of medication can lead to long-term health complications. Surgeries to place wafers or insert catheters put patients in danger of infections.
Other Potential Technologies
Scientists have been working on other ways to deliver medicines to the brain as well. One theory suggests that certain particles could create openings that would let for drugs pass through, but allow those openings to close after delivering the drug. New nanotechnologies may be able to target injured areas directly by attaching antibodies to synthetic polymers like those used in wafer implants.  The antibodies can guide the medication to a pinpointed location. If a new drug delivery system can successfully defeat the blood-brain barrier, researchers can look again at drugs that are otherwise too toxic to introduce through the bloodstream.
Are you or someone you love suffering from a traumatic brain injury? Contact our office to learn more about your rights to compensation. We will provide you with a free consultation of your case. You may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and any medical expenses you may have incurred because of your injury.