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Is Nose-to-brain Transport Of Drugs In Man A Reality?

Lisbeth Illum

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Abstract The blood–brain barrier that segregates the brain interstitial fluid from the circulating blood provides an efficient barrier for the diffusion of most, especially polar, drugs from the blood to receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). Hence limitations are evident in the treatment of CNS diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, especially exploiting neuropeptides and similar polar and large molecular weight drugs. In recent years interest has been expressed in the use of the nasal route for delivery of drugs to the brain, exploiting the olfactory pathway. A wealth of studies has reported proof of nose-to-brain delivery of a range of different drugs in animal models, such as the rat. Studies in man have mostly compared the pharmacological effects (e.g. brain functions) of nasally applied drugs with parenterally applied drugs and have shown a distinct indication of direct nose-to-brain transport. Recent studies in volunteers involving cerebrospinal fluid sampling, blood sampling and pharmacokinetic analysis after nasal, and in some instances parenteral administration of different drugs, have in my opinion confirmed the likely existence of a direct pathway from nose to brain.