blood brain barrier
The blood brain barrier (BBB) insulates the brain from particles in the bloodstream. Age- and trauma-related breakdown in BBB anticipate cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration. The aim of our lab is to determine structures of adhesive protein complexes that glue together endothelial cells that make the BBB. We hypothesize that structures of these adhesions will allow us to develop therapeutics that stabilize the BBB to counteract age- and trauma-related breakdown, and cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration that follows. We also aim to use structures of these adhesions to develop actuator molecules that selectively open the BBB for therapeutic molecules that otherwise can't enter the brain. At present it is estimated that 99% of drug-like molecules fail to enter the brain. We hypothesize that actuator molecules will unlock the therapeutic potential of a large fraction of chemical space, making intractable neurodegenerative diseases treatable.