New paper on brain drug-delivery directionality published in PNAS

September 29, 2021

Caroline Brogan, original article published by Imperial College London News in Brief

New research has confirmed recent findings that the direction at which drug-delivering needles enter the brain affects how well medicine permeates to treat brain diseases like glioblastoma.

The new paper, published in PNAS, is the first time that researchers have used real tissue data and 3D reconstruction to quantify the varying permeabilities in different parts of the brain. The modelling adds further evidence to the initial EDEN2020 paper which found that needles entering parallel to brain fibres, called axons, led to better fluid uptake in targeted brain areas, while needles that entered perpendicular to axons resulted in reduced fluid uptake.

Lead researcher Professor Daniele Dini, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, said: “Our research confirms the strongly directional nature of permeability in brain white matter, which is determined by the direction of axons. It also reveals a significant difference in permeability between the two different areas of the brain studied, proving that the brain cannot be easily divided into gray matter and white matter. This is a breakthrough enabled by the open-access database of images we built.”

The researchers –  from Imperial College, Politecnico di Milano and the University of Milan – say the protocol they developed could be coupled with machine learning tools to provide efficient and accurate 3D reconstruction for high-throughput brain image analysis. They hope their findings will be key in informing new techniques and procedures on using brain microstructure to inform drug delivery solutions.