Drug delivery to the central nervous system (CNS) is one of the most challenging fields of research and development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology products. A number of hydrophilic therapeutic agents, such as antibiotics, anticancer agents, or newly developed neuropeptides do not cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) after systemic administration. The BBB is formed by the tight junctions at the brain capillary endothelial cells, which strictly control drug transfer from blood to brain. Drug modification, osmotic opening of cerebral capillary endothelium, and alternative routes for administration (e.g., intracerebral delivery) have been successfully used to enhance drug transport to the CNS. The use of nanocarriers, such as liposomes and solid polymeric or lipid nanoparticles may be advantageous over the current strategies. These nanocarriers can not only mask the BBB limiting characteristics of the therapeutic drug molecule, but may also protect the drug from chemical/enzymatic degradation, and additionally provide the opportunity for sustained release characteristics. Reduction of toxicity to peripheral organs can also be achieved with these nanocarriers. This review article discusses the various barriers for drug delivery to the CNS and reviews the current state of nanocarriers for enhancing drug transport into the CNS.
Keywords: CNS drug delivery, Blood- brain barrier, Liposomes, Solid polymeric nanoparticles, Solid lipid nanoparticles
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