Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have developed a new ‘microcapsule’ treatment delivery method that can reduce inflammation in cartilage affected by osteoarthritis, and reverse damage to tissue.
Funded by Arthritis Research UK and the AO Foundation, this research was based on the knowledge that C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), the protein molecule which occurs naturally in the body, helps 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, as it is easily broken down and cannot reach the diseased site.
The researchers constructed tiny microcapsules, just 2 microns in diameter, with individual layers containing CNP that could release the protein slowly and therefore deliver the treatment in the most effective way. Experiments on samples of cartilage taken from animals showed that the microcapsules could deliver the anti-inflammatory CNP in a highly effective way. The researchers believe that injections of microcapsules could in the future be used to heal damaged cartilage in people with osteoarthritis – and these injections can be delivered easily by a GP!
According to Dr Tina Chowdhury from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, who led the research, “If this method can be transferred to patients it could drastically slow the progression of osteoarthritis and even begin to repair damaged tissue. 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.”
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