Current options for drug delivery to the spinal cord

Filippo Rossi, Giuseppe Perale, Simonetta Papa, Gianluigi Forloni, Pietro Veglianese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Spinal cord disorders (SCDs) are among the most devastating neurological diseases, due to their acute and long-term health consequences, the reduced quality of life and the high economic impact on society. Here, drug administration is severely limited by the blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) that impedes to reach the cord from the bloodstream. So, developing a suitable delivery route is mandatory to increase medical chances. Areas covered: This review provides an overview of drug delivery systems used to overcome the inaccessibility of the cord. On one side, intrathecal administration, either with catheters or with biomaterials, represents the main route to administer drugs to the spinal cord; on the other side, more recent strategies involve chemical or electromagnetic disruption of the barrier and synthesis of novel functionalized compounds as nanoparticles and liposomes able to cross BSCB. Expert opinion: Both the multifactorial pathological progression and the restricted access of therapeutic drugs to the spine are probably the main reasons behind the absence of efficient therapeutic approaches for SCDs. Hence, very recent highlights suggest the use of original strategies to overcome the BSCB, and new multidrug delivery systems capable of local controlled release of therapeutic agents have been developed. These issues can be addressed by using nanoparticles technology and smart hydrogel drug delivery systems, providing an increased therapeutic compound delivery in the spinal cord environment and multiple administrations able to synergize treatment efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-396
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Biomaterials
  • Blood-spinal cord barrier
  • Central nervous system
  • Hydrogels
  • Nanoparticles
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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