We’ve evolved elegant protections for our brains. Gray matter deftly avoids contact with most interlopers, thanks to an intricate cellular shrink wrap called the blood-brain barrier. But this defense system creates its own challenges for us: It’s been extraordinarily difficult to design medicines that can target neurological illness.
There’s hope that could change, though. A duo of preclinical studies led by Denali Therapeutics recently demonstrated a new way to ferry medicines past the blood-brain barrier. The San Francisco biotech engineered antibody fragments, with medicinal payloads attached to them, that can slip through molecular gateways in the brain’s cellular lining.