A variety of vehicles have been tested for delivery of therapeutics to the nervous system such as osmotic pumps and silicone reservoirs. Although some success has been reported, these techniques have been associated with some complications such as device failure and likelihood for inflammation and infection due to their nondegradable nature. To overcome these challenges, other techniques have been introduced, including polymer matrices, microspheres, nanospheres, and gene therapy.
Microspheres are very small sacs with diameters ranging from 1 μm to 1 mm and therefore can be applied with much less invasion than regular polymer matrices (e.g., injection). These microspheres can be loaded with regeneration-promoting factors (neurotrophic factors, chondroitinase ABC, etc.) for controlled, sustained release in the central nervous system. The biomolecules diffuse through minute holes in the wall of the microsphere. These delivery devices can be made biodegradable; they disintegrate with time and are absorbed by the body.
Nanospheres are a recent product of nanotechnology. These are sacs that are further smaller than microspheres. Their diameter can be as small as 50 nm (nanometer is one billionth of a meter). Biodegradable nanospheres have been used recently to study regeneration of the central nervous system after loading them with biomolecules that are known to enhance the regenerative process. These loaded nanospheres are injected in animals used for spinal cord injury models.
The conventional methods of drug administartion can be used to deliver biomolecules to the central nervous system including the intravenous, subthecal (into the subarachnoid space), and intraventricular (into the brain ventricles) routes. In addition, one of the novel approaches is to administer therapeutics to the brain and cervical spine through the nose. To learn more about the intranasal route, please click here.
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