Challenges and opportunities in CNS delivery of therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2009 Mar;6(3):211-25. doi: 10.1517/17425240902758188.


With an increase in lifespan and changing population demographics, the incidence of central nervous system (CNS) diseases is expected to increase significantly in the 21st century. The most challenging of the CNS diseases are neurodegenerative diseases, characterized by age-related gradual decline in neurological function, often accompanied by neuronal death. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease are some examples of neurodegenerative diseases and have been well described in terms of disease mechanisms and pathology. However, successful treatment strategies for neurodegenerative diseases have so far been limited. Delivery of drugs into the CNS is one of the most challenging problems faced in the treatment of neurodegeneration. In this review, we describe the difficulties with CNS therapy, especially with the use of biological macromolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acid constructs. CNS therapeutics also represents a huge opportunity and examples of strategies that can enhance therapeutic delivery for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases are emphasized. It is anticipated that with an increase in biological understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, there will be even more therapeutic opportunities. As such, these delivery strategies have a very important role to play in the future in the translation of CNS therapeutics from bench to bedside.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacokinetics


  • Drug Carriers
  • Neuroprotective Agents