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Apr 18, 2017 01:56 PM EDT

A new drug delivery system that carries life-saving medicine directly into the brain using nasal sprays has been discovered by a team of scientists. This nanoparticle nasal spray is said to deliver the drug to the brain in just 30 minutes up to an hour.

A team of scientists at the Washington University in St. Louis announced that they have developed a nasal spray made up with gold nanoparticles that is much simpler and non-invasive. These particles were made with a specific size and shape. The researchers also tagged these small particles with fluorescent markers so they can easily track down where the nanoparticles are going.

According to Barani Raman, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Washington University and the co-author of the study, the nose is the shortest route to the brain.

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Despite this, however, there is a major challenge that scientists have to face using this type of drug delivery system - there is a protective membrane in the brain that surrounds the vessels there and protects it from foreign substances that might prove harmful to the brain. This membrane stops 98 percent of drug molecules from entering the brain.

With the new aerosol technique, however, they were able to get past that barrier. In order to test its effect, they used locusts as test subjects because these insects have a similar protective barrier found in humans.

They exposed the locusts to the nasal spray and tracked how the gold nanoparticles traveled through their antennas and into their olfactory nerves and into the protective brain membrane. The result was successful showing no harmful changes hours after the locusts were exposed to the spray.

With the success, the scientists are hoping that they will also try using ultrasound guided delivery to specifically target specific brain regions. They will also fuse different medicines with the gold nanoparticles to deliver them inside the body using the aerosol spray. The scientists are looking forward to the time when these technologies can be used to treat brain-related diseases in a non-invasive way.

The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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