The blood-brain barrier is a network of blood vessels that allow the entry of essential nutrients while blocking other substances. Unfortunately, this barrier is so effective at protecting against foreign substances that it often prevents life-saving drugs. Despite extensive research efforts, an estimated 98 percent of potential drug treatments for brain disorders are unable to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. As a result, there are limited options for patients with brain tumors and other neurological diseases.
The Melbourne, Australia-based startup Eira Biotech is developing customizable nanocarriers to boost the efficacy of therapeutic biomolecules. They specialize in targeting difficult-to-reach biological sites, and are determined to pass the blood-brain barriers to deliver therapeutics. By engineering these nanocarriers, they can vary the amount of drug administered; protect it from difficult and harsh biological conditions, while at the same time exploit the specific characteristics of the targeted sites.
Despite some progress the last years in drug delivery through the blood brain barrier, it has been slow due to lack of funding and interest from the industry. Big pharma has been cautious, and are focusing on areas with greater chances of success. Eira Biotech’s innovative approach could revolutionize how we treat devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and brain cancers, allowing for smaller doses of existing therapeutics, reducing side effects, and lowering costs for patients. In addition, the startup’s nanocarriers could yield new therapeutics that benefit a wide range of diseases, also outside the brain.
While traditional big pharma is still cautious in trying new ways of getting past the blood-brain barrier, we see much of the innovation in this field coming from small companies like Eira Biotech. They have a determination and fearlessness that is near impossible to replicate in larger organizations. And although there are obvious risks associated with pursuing such programs, they could offer high returns if successful. Eira Biotech definitely have a huge potential, and their vision and technology could help millions of people worldwide who currently have very few treatment options.