How the brain’s border protection may be compromised:
These are just some of the ways scientists are considering and/or trialling to compromise the BBB.
* Using a bacterium to trick the BBB to open a gate and let it into the brain.
* ‘Trojan Horse’ attacks whereby Not sure a drug is attached to a molecule that is normally allowed through the BBB.
* Targeted ultrasound techniques that disrupt the BBB
* Using microwave radiation pulses that can alter the permeability of the BBB.
* Using nanoparticles:
a) Certain proteins are allowed across the BBB as they function as nutrient carriers. Linking these with nanoparticles of drugs is a potential way of getting the drugs into the brain.
b) Nanoparticles may be able to bypass the BBB completely by using the olfactory system which has direct access to the brain.
Okay, it’s time to start drawing this stuff together…
Let’s start with Homeland Security:
No doubt people smugglers, drug traffickers, terrorists and others spend considerable time and effort trying to find ways to breach a country’s border security. We are happy to accept that such activities pose a potential threat to the safety of the people and infrastructure of that country. What’s more… if such people are caught we expect them to be dealt with severely.
All of this seems reasonable based on the chaos and carnage we have seen, or maybe even personally experienced, as a result, for example, of a terrorist attack.
But what about Brainland Security?
Researchers and drug companies appear to be expending a great deal of effort and no doubt spending a great deal of money trying to find ways to break down the brain’s border protection.
To date, we seem to be happy to accept that such actions are in the brain’s best interest and are welcome by the brain’s (country’s) cells (people) and the brain’s circuitry (infrastructure). [Note: I’ve used the terms in brackets to remind you of the parallels between Homeland and Brainland border protection]
What’s more, if researchers are successful they expect to be rewarded.
All this might seem reasonable if it wasn’t for the fact that we really have no firm idea how breaking down the brain’s border protection will affect the brain in the long-term or even in the short-term. We can draw limited conclusions from the observed effects of recreational drugs on the brain since several of them pass through the BBB – and what we see is hardly encouraging.
It’s disturbing too that there doesn’t appear to be much research either theoretical or applied to suggest that there is any serious interest in identifying the possible effects of a compromised BBB on the overall long-term health of the brain.
I recall I started by inferring that Homeland Security and brain health had at least one key aspect of their security strategies in common. As you are now aware they both practice border protection.
But that’s where the similarity ends. Why?
Because for Homeland Security the focus of effort and money is on strengthening border protection and keeping alien things out. Contrast Brainland Security where the emphasis is on weakening border protection and letting alien things in.
I know which strategy I’m more comfortable with… what about you?