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Blood-brain Barrier Drug Discovery for Central Nervous System Infections

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Central nervous system (CNS) infections are formidable diseases with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Since the majority of antimicrobial agents discovered so far do not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), the treatment of CNS infections is a major challenge issue. The development of drugs to treat those diseases requires consideration of achievable brain concentrations by targeting the following question. How can the chemistry and biology of the BBB, and infectomics be exploited for the development of drugs against CNS infections? To date drug targeting approaches, such as chemistry-based, biology-based, and infectomics-based, have been implicated in the development of drugs for treatment of CNS infections. The chemistry-based strategies rely on lipid-mediated BBB drug transport as substances that readily permeate the BBB. These usually include small molecular weight of lipophilic or hydrophobic molecules. The biologybased strategies depend on endogenous BBB transport systems, including carrier-mediated transport (CMT), active efflux transport (AET), and receptor-mediated transport (RMT). These transporters play important roles in the influxes and / or effluxes of drugs including antimicrobial agents in brain capillary endothelial cells that form the BBB. Both microbial and host signatures of infectomes, which can be dissected by infectomics, provide invaluable fountains in the search for novel antimicrobial therapies. Key markers associated with the mechanisms of neuronal injury may be identified, and thus, provide important targets for the prevention and treatment of CNS infections. This review focuses on the major BBB drug targeting strategies in the development of therapeutics for CNS infections. A combination of these strategies will ultimately lead to improved treatments.
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Keywords: blood-brain barrier; cns infection; drug discovery; host defense; infectomics; microbial pathogens

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Mailstop #57, CHLA, 4650 Sunset blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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