They further expected that the same material would disassemble, releasing its drug payload, when exposed to the enzymes present during inflammations like those associated with arthritis.
A series of experiments confirmed this. For example, the team created a gel containing a dye as a stand-in for a drug, then exposed it to enzymes associated with arthritis. The drug was released. Further, the addition of agents that inhibited the enzymes stopped the release, indicating that the gel "can release encapsulated agents in an on-demand manner," the researchers write. Although the team has yet to test this in humans, they did find that dye was also released in response to synovial fluid taken from arthritic human joints.
Among other promising results, the researchers found that gel injected into the healthy joints of mice remained stable for at least two months. Further, the gel withstood wear and tear representative of conditions in a moving joint.
Additional tests in mice are underway. The technique has yet to be demonstrated in humans, but the researchers write that it "should have broad implications for the localized treatment of manydiseases" caused by the enzymatic destruction of tissues.
The researchers have applied for a patent on the work, which was sponsored by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) through the U.S. Army and by the Harvard Catalyst Program.
|Contact: Holly Brown-Ayers|
Brigham and Women's Hospital