Protist parasite Toxoplasma gondii has been engineered to deliver proteins and potentially genetic therapy compounds to specific cells in the brain.
The barrier between brain and bloodstream hampers delivery of drugs to the brain. Systems containing proteins and RNA molecules for gene therapy often do not reach desired neuron cells.
Parasite T. gondii passes through the barrier by bloodstream wall junctions or cells or even hitch-hiking immune cells. Its specificity for central nervous system and high efficacy in reaching the brain made the organism an interesting therapy system.
T. gondii was modified to contain protein molecules fused in the organism’s vacuoles. The system successfully influenced neuron cell lines and held promise for further testing.
More: “Engineering Brain Parasites for Intracellular Delivery of Therapeutic Proteins”, S. Bracha et al., 2018, doi:10.1101/481192.