Technion, Bar-Ilan U. create protein administration chip for Alzheimer's treatment

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia and is characterized by symptoms including memory loss, speech impairments, orientation problems, and an impairment of motor functions.

An image of the human brain (photo credit: REUTERS)
An image of the human brain
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Medication that, up until now, has been difficult to administer for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease, has just been made useful by using a nanoscale silicone chip to "trick" the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into allowing entry of the drug, according to new research by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in partnership with Bar-Ilan University.
The researchers claim that such a breakthrough may inhibit the development of the disease. The discovery was made by Prof. Ester Segal and Ph.D. student Michal Rosenberg from the Technion Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, along with Prof. Orit Shefi and Ph.D. student Neta Zilony-Hanin from the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Engineering.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease, which means it originates in the brain cells. The major cause of Alzheimer's is an accumulation of a protein called amyloid beta in brain tissues, which kills the neurons in different regions of the brain. Such damage can harm mechanisms essential to brain functionality.
Ideally, administering a neural growth factor (a specific protein) would limit damage from the disease, but such a task is no easy feat: the BBB protects the brain from being infiltrated by harmful bacteria and other dangerous substances and, in the process, rejects drugs intended to treat the disease.
The new nanoscale silicon chips developed by the research team should solve this major disadvantage, as they are capable inserting the protein directly into the brain and in turn allowing it to be released into the targeted tissue. This would allow the protein to enter the brain without having to cross the BBB because the chip would be inserted, either by implanting or by being sent to target microparticles using a dedicated gene gun.
The protein is released from the chip upon reaching its destination, which is when the chip breaks down into non-toxic components.
Alzheimer's Disease, the most common form of dementia, is characterized by symptoms including memory loss, speech impairment, orientation problems, and a significant impairment of motor functions. It primarily strikes the elderly population and, with the rise in life-expectancy worldwide, the disease has now been considered an epidemic among the elderly, being called the "21st century plague."
Israel has previously made major advancements in Alzheimer's research. Hadassah-University Medical Center, in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, managed to procure a new medical test in August that could help doctors prevent the onset of the disease, as well as discover new and better treatments for it. And research conducted in the Joseph Sagol Neuroscience Center of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer suggests that there is a causal link between diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease.