Rabies-based Trojan Horse to Smuggle Drugs into the Brain
Harvard Scientists have tamed one of nature's nastiest pathogens by turning part of the rabies virus into a powerful therapeutic tool. Manju Swamy and his team borrowed the surface coat of the virus to produce the molecular equivalent of a Trojan Horse capable of smuggling drugs and other molecules past the "blood brain barrier" and into the nervous system. The RVG peptide as it's known latches onto a chemical docking station called the acetyl choline receptor, which sits on the surface of nerve cells and blood vessel cells that form the blood brain barrier. When it locks on the protein is taken up into the cells, carrying its cargo with it, which can include small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that can shut off host genes in nerve cells, or even the genes of infecting viruses like Japanese Encephalitis. Using this approach the researchers were able to rescue mice from a potentially fatal brain infection. The team think that their approach might hold the key to highly efficient drug delivery to the nervous system and manipulation of brain neurochemistry in future.