“Current interventions for acute brain injury are aimed at stabilizing the patient by reducing intracranial pressure and maintaining blood flow, but there are no approved drugs to stop the cascade of events that cause second injury,”
Directly injecting drugs into the brain is highly invasive and can lead to complications, according to the study’s lead researcher.
How intravenously injected peptide would accumulate at the site of brain injury
“We have found a peptide sequence of four amino acids: cysteine, alanine, glutamine, and lysine … that recognizes injured brain tissue,” said Ruoslahti, a professor at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. “This peptide could be used to deliver treatments that limit the extent of damage.”
Ruoslahti said the new technique would allow doctors to administer drugs intravenously. Following a brain injury, large, sugar-coated proteins called chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans increase around the injury site.
The peptide binds to them, and they carry the drug-loaded package to the damaged areas, an effect the researchers saw in human brain samples as well as mouse models.