The blood-brain barrier prevents 98% of conventional drugs from reaching the central nervous system directly, and as a result it is very difficult to treat the more than 20 million Americans who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases and other CNS problems.

Therefore at present many conditions are either deemed untreatable, or at least difficult or dangerous to treat. However, the nasal lining (called mucosa) may hold the solution to this issue.

Numerous other methods to bypass the blood-brain barrier have been attempted in the past, but these have proven very dangerous – a catheter being implanted in the brain for example is prone to infection, and can also become dislodged. Clearly these methods are only temporary, and cannot be used on a permanent basis.

Recent studies have shown that the mucosa may be the link that can be used to bypass the CNS’s defense mechanisms and treat neurological diseases. Researchers began by observing modern technology used to perform surgery in the sinus area with scopes instead of more invasive procedures, and were able to determine what would be needed in order to deliver medication directly to an animal’s brain via the mucosa.

Mice are the proposed subject, and initial models suggest that using the mucosa will allow the blood-brain barrier to be bypassed by molecules up to 1,000 times the size that would normally be able to be inserted into the CNS, meaning that many more conventional treatment options would become available.

Such surgical techniques have been well-documented and used successfully in many types of procedures – researchers are also hopeful that in this case the procedure will be viable as a means of drug therapy for those with neurodegenerative diseases and other CNS conditions.

Studies will continue to be undertaken with patients who have successfully undergone surgeries in the past involving these endoscopic methods.