Opening the Blood-Brain-Barrier with Nanomagnets

A Magnetic Particle Imager (left) will be used to select a small area in the brain (center), where additional magnetic excitation will heat the tissue and increase the permeabilty of the BBB for marker substances and medications (right).

Theragnostic approach could revolutionize medical treatment of brain diseases.

Diseases of the brain are quite difficult to treat by medications, not the least due to the dense encapsulation of blood vessels in the brain called the blood-brain-barrier (BBB).

Participants of the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools are developing methods to circumvent this barrier, either by implantable, drug eluting brain probes or by localized heating of the brain tissue, thus opening the BBB. Members of  the newly funded consortium centered at the University Medical Center Freiburg are developing a method to heat systemically injected nanoparticles in a small area of the brain as monitored and selected by a non-invasive novel imaging modality Magnetic Particle Imaging.  

The consortium is represented in Freiburg by BrainLinks-BrainTools members Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hofmann and Dr. Pierre Levan and is funded since October 2017 for three years by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) with 7,6 Mio € altogether.  It will provide a preclinical MPI-scanner to the Neurozentrum used to permit theragnostic intervention in animal models of disease.