In a breakthrough which could improve treatment of Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, scientists believe they may have discovered how to safely open and close the blood brain barrier.
Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that adenoside, a natural molecule in the body, is able to regulate the entry of large molecules into the brain.
When adenosine receptors were activated on cells in the blood-brain barrier, a gateway was established, scientists found.
Up until now, the blood-brain barrier was so restrictive that researchers could not find a way to deliver drugs to the brain.
Senior author Margaret Bynoe commented: "Big pharmaceutical companies have been trying for 100 years to find out how to traverse the blood-brain barrier and still keep patients alive.
"Utilising adenosine receptors seems to be a more generalised gateway across the barrier."
In other news, people with higher levels of cholesterol could be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's, research published in journal Neurology has revealed.
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