An injectable gel developed by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital promises to deliver medication for arthritis sufferers exactly when and where they need it. It does the trick by responding to specific enzymes released when there is a flare up.
There are already injectable arthritis treatments out there, but they only last a short amount of time before the body gets rid of it. This gel also promises to be more efficient than implantable drug-delivery devices, since those continuously release medication whether it's needed or not.
"The Holy Grail of drug delivery is an autonomous system that [meters] the amount of drug released in response to a biological stimulus, ensuring that the drug is released only when needed at a therapeutically relevant concentration," researcher Jeffrey Karp wrote in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.
The researchers focused only on materials already recognized by the FDA as safe to cut the time involved in bringing it to market. They found a gel known as GRAS, which can self-assemble around a drug. "The beauty of self-assembly is that whatever exists in solution during the assembly process--in this case, a drug--becomes entrapped," said Praveen Vemula, one of the paper's authors.
Karp said he is hopeful the delivery mechanism can also be applied to other conditions. "We think that this platform could be useful for multiple medical applications including the localized treatment of cancer, ocular disease and cardiovascular disease," Karp said.