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Injectable gel could spell relief for arthritis sufferers
Date:4/13/2011

y, 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," says Vemula, first author of the paper, who also has an appointment at HST.

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.

Promising Results

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.


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Contact: Holly Brown-Ayers
hbrown-ayers@partners.org
617-534-1603
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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