Intratarget Microdosing for Deep Phenotyping of Multiple Drug Effects in the Live Brain

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2022 Mar 18;10:855755. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.855755. eCollection 2022.


A main impediment to effective development of new therapeutics for central nervous system disorders, and for the in vivo testing of biological hypotheses in the brain, is the ability to rapidly measure the effect of novel agents and treatment combinations on the pathophysiology of native brain tissue. We have developed a miniaturized implantable microdevice (IMD) platform, optimized for direct stereotactic insertion into the brain, which enables the simultaneous measurement of multiple drug effects on the native brain tissue in situ. The IMD contains individual reservoirs which release microdoses of single agents or combinations into confined regions of the brain, with subsequent spatial analysis of phenotypic, transcriptomic or metabolomic effects. Using murine models of Alzheimer's disease (AD), we demonstrate that microdoses of various approved and investigational CNS drugs released from the IMD within a local brain region exhibit in situ phenotypes indicative of therapeutic responses, such as neuroprotection, reduction of hyperphosphorylation, immune cell modulation, and anti-inflammatory effects. We also show that local treatments with drugs affecting metabolism provide evidence for regulation of metabolite profiles and immune cell function in hMAPT AD mice. The platform should prove useful in facilitating the rapid testing of pharmacological or biological treatment hypotheses directly within native brain tissues (of various animal models and in patients) and help to confirm on-target effects, in situ pharmacodynamics and drug-induced microenvironment remodeling, much more efficiently than currently feasible.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; drug sensitivity; high-throughput screen; in vivo; microdevice; polymer formulation.