Boston, MA - Some 25 million people in the United States alone suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or its cousin osteoarthritis, diseases characterized by often debilitating pain in the joints. Now researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) report an injectable gel that could spell the future for treating these diseases and others.
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.
Karp will present the findings April 15 at the annual meeting of the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) as part of winning the coveted SFB Young Investigator Award for this work. The work was also reported by Karp and colleagues in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research (JBMR): Part A, and is currently available on the journal's website.
Arthritis is a good example of a disease that attacks specific parts of the body. Conventional treatments for it, however, largely involve drugs taken orally. Not only do these take a while (often weeks) to exert their effects, they can have additional side effects. That is because the drug is dispersed throughout the body, not just at the affected joint. Further, high concentrations of the drug are necessary to deliver enough to the affected joint, which runs the risk of toxicity.
"There are many instances where we would like to deliver drugs to a specific location, but it's very challenging to do so without encountering major barriers," says Karp, who also holds appointments through Harvard Medical School (HMS), Harvar
|Contact: Holly Brown-Ayers|
Brigham and Women's Hospital