Nanocomposites for neurodegenerative diseases: hydrogel-nanoparticle combinations for a challenging drug delivery

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Neurodegenerative disorders are expected to strike social and health care systems of developed countries heavily in the coming decades. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases (AD/PD) are the most prevalent neurodegenerative pathologies, and currently their available therapy is only symptomatic. However, innovative potential drugs are actively under development, though their efficacy is sometimes limited by poor brain bioavailability and/or sustained peripheral degradation. To partly overcome these constraints, the development of drug delivery devices made by biocompatible and easily administrable materials might be a great adjuvant. In particular, materials science can provide a powerful tool to design hydrogels and nanoparticles as basic components of more complex nanocomposites that might ameliorate drug or cell delivery in AD/PD. This kind of approach is particularly promising for intranasal delivery, which might increase brain targeting of neuroprotective molecules or proteins. Here we review these issues, with a focus on nanoparticles as nanocomponents able to carry and tune drug release in the central nervous system, without ignoring warnings concerning their potential toxicity.

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