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CBD Is A Ninja That Smuggles Medicine Across The Blood Brain Barrier

Dragana Komnenov PhD
CBD nanoparticles, nanocapsules, LNCs, BBB, blood brain barrier, medical cannabis, cannabis medicine, medicated

CBD and nanocapsules could be key to treating brain-based illness.

A new study, published in Molecular Pharamceutics, investigated how CBD is able to get medicine across the blood brain barrier (BBB). See, the BBB is notoriously tough on entry, denying access for most molecules. It is critical, however, that we figure out how to get medicine to specific areas of the brain in order to advance treatment for mental health disorders.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder. The prevalence of mental health illness has been on the rise in the 21st century and is expected to remain as such. Some of this can be put down to the increase in life span and resulting opportunity to age into dementia and other neurological disorders.

Unfortunately, treatment strategies for diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) have not caught up. The big obstacle seems to be the existence of the blood brain barrier (BBB).

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CBD and Nanotechnology Breach The Blood Brain Barrier

The “no access” property of the BBB evolved to protect our CNS from pathogens in the blood. These may circulate in the bloodstream, but we don’t want our precious noggin becoming infected. The results of that could be devastating, such as Lyme Disease and meningitis. The militant BBB also locks out medicine that we want to get through.

Micro-cargo, covered in lipid molecules, are a logical strategy to get across the fatty membrane. ‘Like dissolves like’ and lipids should be able to get across.  Several clinical trials have investigated exactly this. These particles are called nanocarriers and can be packaged with any medicine of choice. The package dissolves across the lipid membrane of the BBB and brings its precious medicine cargo with it.  However, this is still not the most efficient way of targeting a specific problem within the brain. Researchers are now looking at other ways to target brain disease.

What is Brain Active Targeting?

‘Brain active targeting’ is a branch of medical research investigating how we can use the receptors on the BBB to get medicine across and into the brain. Nanoparticles unlock the door to get into the brain, using ligands. Ligands are like little keys. A very important feature for nanoparticles is that they not excite the immune system in any way. It’s like being a ninja using a counterfeit key to get into a sacred temple.

ligand, CBD nanoparticles, brain active targeting, BBB, blood brain barrier, medical cannabis, cannabis medicineCBD Nanocapsules are the Perfect Ninja

CBD is the perfect candidate for further exploration because it is capable of binding many receptors found on the BBB: CB1, TRPV-1 , GPR55 and dopamine D2.

One group of researchers took medicine-filled nanocarriers, called nanocapsules (LNCs), and decorated these with CBD. This was to test the hypothesis that this setup would get the medicine across the BBB without waking up the immune system since CBD is accepted across its checkpoints.

They next tested this in vivo in a mouse model, intravenously injecting the LNCs and CBD/LNC combos into the brain. Fluorescent dye made for easy tracking. The in vivo results confirmed that smaller sized LNCs, coupled with CBD were most successful in getting across the barrier.

How Are CBD Nanocapsules Able to Get Medicine Across?

They hypothesized that the mechanism of action for CBD LNCs is likely via binding to receptors on the BBB. Although the proof of this is the subject of future studies.

Healthy mice were the subject of this study. This is a potential limitation as we don’t know if CBD LNCs will operate the same on a leaky BBB.  Certain diseases compromise the BBB.

Nevertheless, this study was the first of its kind to show ‘proof of principle’ for CBD LNCs to deliver medicine directly into the brain. It’s an exciting development!

Dragana Komnenov
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