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The delivery service to fix your brain

Updated Saturday, 20 March 2021
How can we make sure drugs get to where they are needed in the body? Open University PhD student Conor McQuaid explains one way in which scientists can target the delivery of drugs.


When you order a pizza, they need to know your address and have some way of getting to that exact place or else your neighbour could end up enjoying that cheesy goodness. We have the same issue with certain drugs, in that we need to get it to the right place (for example into the brain) and we need a way to get it there. Delivery services use GPS and maps to navigate its way to your rumbling belly and similarly we can use targeting molecules which are designed to be specific to the brain.  This will ensure that our therapeutic cargo gets to the right place and can be put to good use.

illustration depicting delivery to the brain


Just like the pizza service need a means to deliver, (such as a teenager on a moped) we can attach our therapeutic cargo to carriers such as tiny spheres of gold. Without this carrier we wouldn’t be able to transport the therapeutic cargo effectively, just like without the teenager on a moped your pizza would be left uneaten and you left hungry.


The driver needs to be protected as he or she makes their delivery, it would be no good if the pizza arrived to the right place only to be destroyed in transit. So the pizza is boxed away and the driver wears a helmet to protect themselves on their journey. Our carrier particle has stabilizing agents to protecting it as it transported through our body and towards the brain. This helps protect the carrier and cargo from being destroyed before it reached its goal.

The Delicious Cargo

You can have whatever you want on top, pepperoni, onion (even for those odd people among us, ham and pineapple) but this ability to change is to suit the goal of keeping the customer happy. In our system we have our cargo which in the future could be interchangeable, but we have started with a special molecule which we believe could be effective in treating a number of problems in the brain. Nicknamed the “miracle grow for the brain”, we are aiming to transport therapeutic cargoes which have been linked to repair and growth of new brain cells.

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