Initially our focus was on identifying reliable methods of delivering drugs and therapeutic devices through the blood brain barrier where they will do most good. The major issue facing clinicians and researchers who are developing drugs to be used in the treatment of neurological disorders, is this barrier which is a protective wall around the brain. Nothing gets past it if the brain is in the least bit suspicious. Man-made drugs are something the brain is very suspicious of.
The initial research we funded involved using a groundbreaking catheter-based system which pierced the blood brain barrier and delivered medication to exactly where it is required…
safely, reliably and repeatedly.
The focus this year is delivery of chemotherapy to children with DIPG (Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) brain tumours.
Using the revolutionary technology developed by Professor Gill, the trial’s objective is to deliver chemotherapy to the tumour whilst protecting healthy cells, and to deliver stronger doses than can be taken orally to destroy the tumour.
Funding Neuro is urgently raising the £900,000 required to accelerate drug development and advance the research that professionals strongly believe will make the difference.
We have raised over £782,000 towards the cost of trials using the system to deliver a growth factor for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and chemotherapy for the treatment of brain tumours. The GDNF trial is now in phase 2, which involves 30 patients. Bryn Williams, our founder, is now one of the patients.
In 2010 Bryn was lucky enough to make contact with Professor Steven Gill, the neurosurgeon at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. Steven is the man responsible for the development of the CED (convection enhanced delivery) system, and primarily Funding Neuro fund his trials.
In Steven Gill’s words:
The focus of my research over the past 10 years has been to develop the technology to deliver novel therapies in a reliable way across the blood brain barrier so that new treatments that can potentially reverse some of these devastating neurological diseases can be brought to patients.
In 2001 I carried out a trial of infusing a compound into the area of the brain damaged in Parkinson’s disease in 5 patients. These patients had dramatic reversal of their disease with evidence of recovery of the nerve cells that are specifically damaged in Parkinson’s disease. A subsequent trial of infusion of the compound carried out primarily in the United States did not show significant benefit, but in this trial an inappropriate drug delivery system was used which could not drive the drug through the brain to treat the appropriate brain volume. It was following the failure of this trial that I became determined to develop a robust and reliable drug delivery system and I believe that this has now been achieved.
What is critically important in treating neurological disease is that the selected therapy is delivered in the correct dose to discrete volumes of the brain where the disease is generated. This can be achieved by placing microcatheters into specific structures in the brain and driving the drugs through the brain substance by very slow infusion. The microcatheters are very small indeed and typically have an outside diameter of between half and 0.2 of a millimetre. To deliver these deep into brain structures requires the precision and steady guidance of a robot.
Here is a video (created and uploaded in 2011) which shows the effects of GDNF being delivered correctly and precisely to the brain using Steven’s delivery system.
There are a number of conventional chemotherapy drugs that would be extremely effective against brain tumours if only they could cross the blood brain barrier. By applying this new technology we can deliver these drugs to the correct side of the blood brain barrier where in fact they stay in the brain for long periods and are highly effective against brain tumours, without causing general side effects.