Washington: Researchers at Brigham and Women``s Hospital (BWH) have developed a potentially new way to treat arthritis.
They have made an injectable gel that could spell the future for treating rheumatoid arthritis or its cousin osteoarthritis, diseases characterized by often debilitating pain in the joints.
Among its advantages, the gel could allow the targeted release of medicine at an affected joint, and could dispense that medicine on demand in response to enzymes associated with arthritic flare-ups.
“We think that this platform could be useful for multiple medical applications including the localized treatment of cancer, ocular disease, and cardiovascular disease,” said Jeffrey Karp, leader of the research and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at BWH.
The researchers tackled the problem by first determining the key criteria for a successful locally administered arthritis treatment. In addition to having the ability to release drug on demand, for example, the delivery vehicle should be injectable through a small needle and allow high concentrations of the drug.
The team ultimately determined that an injectable gel seemed most promising.
Ultimately, they discovered a GRAS material that could be coaxed into self-assembling into a drug-containing gel.
“The beauty of self-assembly is that whatever exists in solution during the assembly process--in this case, a drug--becomes entrapped,” said c Praveen Kumar Vemula of BWH, first author of the paper.
The finding is detailed in the May 2011 issue of Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.