Wednesday , December 8 2021

Nanoparticles come to the brain full of drugs


The brain is also our most complicated and difficult organ to study. By developing flexible electrodes that are thinner than hair, researchers at Lund University’s Neuron Research Center are developing new methods that can record signals from brain nerve cells to teach them more about the brain.

– There are several conditions of neurological diseases, such as chronic pain, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, that we want to better understand the mechanisms and then treat them in the best way, says Professor Jens Schouenborg, who leads the work of the research team.

The idea is that these electrodes can also be used to treat brain diseases locally.

Light transport of medicines

One challenge has been that implants and electrodes embedded in brain tissue can cause local loss of nerve cells and inflammation that can damage the brain. Now the research team has designed nanoparticles with drugs that can be inserted with the help of electrodes, where they deliver the medication where it is needed.

The method has been tested in mice and the researchers found that the drug reduces the unwanted activity of microgial cells that are thought to act as immune systems in the brain in the event of brain damage and that the electrodes do not damage nerve cells.

– This method is an important piece of the puzzle that gives us better control over the tissue around the environment and the implants of the brain electrodes. We used the drug Minocycline, which has protective properties for nerve cells, and it also relieves the aspects of inflammation that we want to alleviate, says Johan Agorelius, a PhD student at Lund University.

Very smooth electrodes

There is a strong and long-standing research collaboration behind the development of drug-releasing nanoparticles. The development of nanoparticles that release the drug has been a challenge for a long time, but it has also taken time to find out what dose to use in the brain.

– The nanoparticle absorbs the jellies and then dries and encapsulates the particles. Gelatin has the advantage that it is hard when dry, but it softens when it enters the brain tissue. It dissolves there and the nanoparticles are released locally shortly before they decompose, explained Alexander Dontsios Holmkvist, a doctoral student at Lund University who developed nanoparticles.

The electrodes developed in the previous research team are so smooth that they can’t even handle the surface tension of the water. So that they can enter the brain, they are embedded in the jelly. The research team has also previously shown that when electrodes are coated with gelatin, the healing of brain tissue is accelerated.

Release the medication exactly

The method of releasing the drug locally means that you don’t have to affect the rest of the body.

– With the help of nanoparticles, you get to release the medication locally, wherever you want. This is a very small dose; a million times less doses than given orally. Jens Schouenborg says it doesn’t have to be refilled because it frees up so much time that the method can be given to local medicines for other soft tissues, such as treating cancer locally. Before that, more studies are needed.


Jens Schouenborg, Professor of Neurophysiology at Lund University, [email protected]
Alexander Dontsios Holmkvist, PhD student at Lund University, [email protected]

Scientific article:

Local delivery of minicline-loaded PLGA nanoparticles from gelatin-coated neuronal implants in mice exacerbates brain tissue responses.(Alexander Dontsios Holmkvist, Johan Agorelius, Matilde Forni, Ulf J. Nilsson, Cecilia Eriksson Linsmeier and Jens Schouenborg) Journal of Nanobiotechnology


Nanoparticle-based neural interface drug delivery systems – a new approach to improving biocompatibilityAlexander Dontsios Holmkvist

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