Researchers at St. Louis University have reversed the symptoms of Alzheimer's and stroke in mice with a new process that gets drugs past the brain's protective barrier.
The blood-brain barrier is a group of cells that only lets in nutrients and rejects any foreign substances. The barrier makes no distinction between substances meant to help with others that will do harm.
The treatment is named PACAP27 and allows a certain hormone, produced in the body, to get past the protective barrier.
"We went after the guard and essentially told him to go on break for a while so PACAP27 could get into the brain," said St. Louis University professor Dr William A Banks.
In the past, treatment of Alzheimer's and stroke has been limited because the drugs available were blocked from the damaged areas of the brain.
Banks said the mice in the study afflicted with Alzheimer's disease "became smarter" after the protective barrier was shut down. The findings could potentially lead to treating many conditions which affect the central nervous system.
An estimated 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.