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This Nasal Spray May Clear Your Brain, Not Your Sinuses


Earlier experiments demonstrated that this substance can heal injured rat brains, but it had to be applied directly to the brain. In the past, says Frey, "the only way to get it to the human brain would be to drill a hole in the skull and put it in, so it is not considered a practical treatment for humans."

Within hours of getting the drug, the rats showed signed of brain healing: Swelling was reduced, and movement improved, says Frey.

Philip Gorelick, MD, professor and director of the Center for Stroke Research in Chicago, tells WebMD that "the standard method of delivery for drugs to treat stroke is [via an injection into the vein]. So, if this were true, it would be novel." But after consulting with a number of colleagues who focus their research on animal studies, Gorelick's enthusiasm was dampened.

The other researchers, says Gorelick, weren't that impressed. He says that the method would have to be carefully tested in rats to see if the drug was adequately reaching all the areas in the brain it needed to.

Larry B. Goldstein, MD, a member of the AHA's Stroke Council and an associate professor of medicine at Duke University, says there is a very big difference between the olfactory nerves in rats and olfactory nerves in humans because a much larger part of a rat's brain is dedicated solely to the sense of smell.

Frey agrees that rats have a more developed sense of smell but he adds that the trigeminal nerve, "is proportionally the same size in rats and humans." He says that "trigeminal nerves also hang down into the nasal cavity, and so the drug can just as easily travel along that [nerve] pathway."

Goldstein does, however, agree that a nerve route could provide a speedy pathway to the brain. Speed is important to stroke researchers, whose motto is "Time is brain," meaning that the longer the blood supply to the brain is cut off, the more brain cells are destroyed.

Frey, who says that the idea for the nose drops came to him "in a dream," says he has patented his "Method for Administering Neurologic Agents to the Brain" in the United States and several other countries. He says that more research needs to be done but suggests that he may pursue that research in partnership with a drug company.

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