When 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM Dec 02, 2016
Where 1571 G.G. Brown
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Breaking Through the Blood-Brain Barrier

Shikha Nangia
Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, Syracuse University

Although discovered more than 100 years ago, the blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains an unresolved scientific challenge. It is widely accepted that the blood-brain barrier is the brain’s security system that allows entry of essential nutrients while blocking potentially harmful substances. The selectivity of the BBB is critical in maintaining the homeostasis of central nervous system, yet the BBB is a major hurdle in treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Specialized physical barrier called “tight junctions” present between adjacent endothelial cells act as molecular gatekeepers in regulating paracellular traffic at the blood-brain interface. Understanding the molecular basis of the tight junction selectivity has been difficult using experimental methods. In my research group, we are characterizing molecular interactions responsible for the tight junction assembly using multiscale molecular dynamics. The molecular insights from this research have propelled us a step forward towards solving the blood-brain barrier puzzle, and consequently are aiding in designing novel therapeutics to treat the brain-related ailments.

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