Ways Of Parasitic Fish To Contribute In Combating Brain Cancer And Stroke

Researchers have gone to a prehistoric species of fish in an attempt to look for a preferable way of transferring therapeutic drugs in the individuals brain to deal with circumstances and incidents all the way from cancer to stroke.


Lampreys are known as the most ancient remaining alive species of eel-like jawless fish. They surround in rivers and coastal sea waters in mild regions globally. These weird-looking fish are made specifically strange by their boneless, tooth-lined mouth. They are exploitical, living on the blood of other fish.

New study recommends that these marine-dwellers can give an versatile vehicle for drugs which medicate the biological impacts of circumstances of health incidents affecting the mind. A latest study, managed by a team of scientists from University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at Austin, has viewed a kind of molecule from the immune system of lampreys, known as “variable lymphocyte receptors” (VLRs)

The researchers demonstrate that the ability to target the extracellular matric (ECM) is what makes VLRs interesting and a web of macromolecules that mantain structure to the cells they encircle. This network adds up to a huge part of the central nervous system,so the research team thinks that VLRs can support in moving drugs to the brain, enhancing the effectiveness of medical care for brain cancer, brain trauma or stroke.

This set of targeting molecules appears somewhat agnostic to the disease. We believe it could be applied as a platform technology across multiple conditions.” says the study author Prof. Eric Shusta. The researchers experimented their hypothesis on mouse models of violent brain cancer, and the findings were published in the journal Science Advances.

A favorable experiment

Usually, drugs do not easily pierce the brain because it is secured by the brain-blood barrier, which halts possibly dangerous agents entering into the brain. Nevertheless, this shield also stops the medication from arriving at its target.

In the situation of some health incidents that impact the brain, the brain-blood barrier “eases up” which can make the brain vulnerable to additional problems but also gives way to drugs to enter in. In the current analysis, the researchers were keen to check the effectiveness of VLRs, and taking benefits of the havoc of the brain-blood barrier in the situation of glioblastoma, a harsh type of brain cancer. “Molecules like this [VLRs] normally couldn’t ferry cargo into the brain, but anywhere there’s a blood-brain barrier disruption, they can deliver drugs right to the site of pathology,” demonstrates Prof. Shusta.

The research team used mouse models of dlioblastoma, curing them with VLRs bound to doxorubicin, a specific drug which helps to treat this type of cancer in humans. Prof. Shusta and colleagues mention that this method was beneficial and increased survival in the rodents medicated with this innovative mixture. The investigators mention that binding VLRs to many drugs can include one more vital benefit – it could give permission to specialists to transfer particularly increasing doses of those drugs to the brain ECM.

“Similar to water soaking into a sponge, the lamprey molecules will potentially accumulate much more of the drug in the abundant matrix around cells compared to specific delivery to cells,” explains coauthor Prof. John Kuo. Also, this binding “hack” can assist another issue. The researchers describe that brain cells can be their own foe when the time comes to receiving medication since they “throw out” chemicals that passes them.

Though, since VLRs aim at the ECM which is around the brain cells, this could give way for the drugs to perform on the cells for longer periods. “This could be a way to hold therapies in place that don’t otherwise accumulate well in the brain so they can be more effective,” explains coauthor Ben Umlauf, Ph.D.

‘Testing this plan in various models’

Eventually, the researchers mention that the VLRs move around easy circulating the body in the mouse models, but they didn’t result in accumulating in healthy tissue. This advises us that these molecules would not disturb healthy, working organs. Moving ahead, the investigators decided to try joining VLRs with different types of anti-cancer drugs, with the inclusion of those seen in immunotherapy, to visualize how effective the molecules would function with a more contrasting array of therapies.

One more feasibility that the researchers are interested to find out is, the use of VLRs to recognize any mishaps of the blood-brain barrier, that might mean the beginning of a health event. They decide to do this by combining VLRs to experienced investigations suited with brain imaging advancements.

For the time being, however, “I’m excited about trying this strategy in different disease model systems,” states Kuo, also mentioning that “there are several disease processes that disrupt the blood-brain barrier and we could conceive of delivering a variety of different therapies with these molecules.”