London: Indian-origin researcher Tina Chowdhury from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and her team have developed a new "microcapsule" treatment delivery that can reduce inflammation in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and reverse damage to tissue.
"If this method can be transferred to patients, it could drastically slow the progression of osteoarthritis and even begin to repair damaged tissue," said Chowdhury from QMUL's school of engineering and materials science.
A protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) which occurs naturally in the body, is known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue.
However, CNP cannot be used to treat osteoarthritis in patients because it cannot target the damaged area even when the protein is injected into the cartilage tissue.
This is because CNP is easily broken down and cannot reach the diseased site.
The team constructed tiny microcapsules with individual layers containing CNP that could release the protein slowly and, therefore, deliver the treatment in the most effective way.
In experiments on samples of cartilage taken from animals, they showed that the microcapsules could deliver the anti-inflammatory CNP in a highly effective way.
CNP is currently available to treat other conditions such as skeletal diseases and cardiovascular repair.
"If we could design simple injections using the microcapsules, this means the technology has the potential to be an effective and relatively cheap treatment that could be delivered in the clinic or at home," Chowdhury said.
The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK and the AO Foundation.