Animal tests have confirmed that CBD can be used as a medical “Trojan horse” to pass drugs through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the brains of mice.
Scientific studies have confirmed that CBD relieves pain, reduces inflammation, improves symptoms of depression and anxiety, and reduces the number of seizures associated with childhood disorders like Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
Additionally, ongoing studies are investigating the link between CBD and a reduced risk of heart disease, as well as the possibility that it may prevent diabetes and even cure certain types of cancer.
BBB is a tightly woven layer of cells that blocks harmful substances from entering the bloodstream to the brain, while letting useful molecules like glucose, neurotransmitters, and amino acids pass through. Scientists hope to use CBD to "introduce" drugs through BBB.
The study was published this year in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics from the American Chemical Society.
Central nervous system (CNS) diseases particularly difficult to treat
The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. It is called the “central” nervous system because it collects information from multiple systems and coordinates activities throughout the body.
There are a number of causes of central nervous system disorders, including trauma, infections, tumors, autoimmune disorders, and strokes. These conditions include motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and many more.
CNS disorders are particularly difficult to treat because the BBB prevents drugs from passing from the bloodstream to the brain to reach the affected areas.
Stealth drug administration
Neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids have the ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors in BBB. These receptors, in turn, help transport useful molecules through the BBB and into the brain.
The research team set out to prove that they could use this system as a way to deliver drugs that BBB would normally block into the brain. This would help treat diseases that affect the central nervous system more effectively.
The researchers attached the CBD to the outer surfaces of the lipid nanocapsules. Instead of loading the nanocapsules with a drug, the researchers wrapped them with a fluorescent molecule in order to follow their path. In experiments with human brain cells that mimic BBB, the researchers showed that nanocarriers with CBD passed more of the fluorescent molecule through cells than nanocarriers of equal size that did not have CBD. Likewise, when injected into healthy mice, CBD nanocapsules deliver about 2,5 times more of the fluorescent molecule into the brains of animals.
If scientists are able to replicate these results in human trials, the CBD could provide real hope for patients with CNS disorders.