Drugs which are unable to pass the blood-brain barrier, which stops them getting into the brain where they could be potentially beneficial to health, could hitch a ride on the back of vitamin C, according to new research from Italy.
A team led by Dr. Stefano Manfredini from the University of Ferrara found that drugs used to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's or epilepsy can get past the blood-brain barrier more easily when helped by a vitamin C molecule.
The researchers focused on the ascorbic acid SVCT2 transporter, which is believed to play a major role in regulating the transport of vitamin C into the brain. They assessed the effect of adding vitamin C to drugs which find it hard to cross the blood-brain barrier - namely diclophenamic acid, nipecotic acid and kynurenic acid - and found that the additional component made it much easier for them to interact with the transporter.
Glucose and amino acids have already shown an ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, but they do not guarantee a selective target. The benefits of using SVCT2 is that it can deliver the drug directly to the central nervous system, Manfredini said.