William A. Banks, M.D., F.A.C.E.
The major focus of the Banks laboratory is the study of how the brain and body communicate with one another through the transfer of informational molecules across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB exists because the capillary bed of the central nervous system is modified to prevent the unrestricted leakage of proteins from blood into the brain. The Banks laboratory has shown that many regulatory proteins and peptides, which are some of the most potent information-conveying molecules in the body, can cross the BBB. This passage is often highly regulated and affected by disease states. As such, the lab is active in several areas. Work with how leptin and other feeding hormones cross the BBB gives insight into obesity and body weight control. Work with cytokine transport across the BBB helps to understand how the immune system and brain speak to one another under normal conditions and other pathological conditions such as sepsis, Alzheimer's disease, and spinal cord injury. Work on alcohol addition has show that the BBB helps to regulate brain levels of methionine enkephalin, an opiate peptide that influenes voluntary alcohol drinking and seizure activity. Work with HIV-1 shows it can cross the BBB as free virus to directly infect the brain and our current work is investigating how prions enter the brain. We also have several projects related to drug delivery into brain, including the delivery of antisense for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the delivery of enzymes for the treatment of mucopolysaccharidoses, and the modification of peptides and proteins with esters and pluronics as a more universal delivery mechanism.
Seattle VA Puget Sound Health Care System
1660 S. Columbian Way
Room 810A, Bldg 1
Seattle, WA 98108
Phone Number: (206)764-2701
Fax Number: (206)764-2569