Precise Drug Delivery for Neuromodulation: Swiss Team Develops New Method


Research Roundup 2019 smResearchers in Switzerland have developed a novel neuromodulation sequence for aggregating and uncaging drug carriers at a circuit-specific location in the brain.

The preclinical study in rats, which was recently published in Nature Communications, used focused ultrasound to both aggregate and uncage a neurotransmitter called gamma amino butyric acid (GAMA) – the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult brain. This technique does not open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) but the released neurotransmitters cross the intact BBB at the specific location where they are released from the carriers.

Importantly, the method reduced the dosage quantity of drug needed. The team found that a dose that was 1,300 times smaller than the typical dose could induce effects. “Focal modulation of brain circuits with low off-target effects can lead to breakthroughs in treatments of brain disorders,” said the manuscript. “We showed circuit-specific manipulation of sensory signaling in the motor cortex of rats.”

The collaborative research team included scientists from the Zürich Federal Institute of Technology, or “Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule [ETH]” Institute of Neuroinformatics’ department of information technology and electrical engineering (D-ITET) and the University of Zurich (UZH) Neuroscience Center.

See Nature Communications >

See ETH Zurich’s Press Release >

Media coverage of this study can be found on the CORDIS website (“Treating Brain Disorders with High-Precision, Ultrasound-Controlled Drug Delivery,” and on Medical Xpress, Biocompare, and Science Daily, among others.