A new microcapsule delivery system developed by British researchers could reduce inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and even reverse damage to cartilage tissue.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) say tiny microcapsules infused with a protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) were effective in treating damaged cartilage when injected into animals. The researchers believe that injections of CNP microcapsules could in the future be used to heal cartilage in people with osteoarthritis.
“If this method can be transferred to patients it could drastically slow the progression of osteoarthritis and even begin to repair damaged tissue,” said Dr. Tina Chowdhury from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.
“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.”
CNP occurs naturally in the body, and is known to reduce inflammation and aid in the repair of damaged tissue. However, CNP hasn’t been used to treat osteoarthritis because it cannot target damaged areas even when injected into the cartilage tissue. That is because CNP easily breaks down and is dispersed throughout in the body.
The researchers constructed tiny microcapsules, just 2 microns in diameter, with individual layers containing CNP that release the protein slowly and deliver the treatment in the most effective way. The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK and the AO Foundation.
“Current treatment options for osteoarthritis are limited, and therefore developing new ways to treat this painful and debilitating condition is currently a major area of research,” said Dr. Stephen Simpson, Director of Research at Arthritis Research UK.
“Delivery of a drug to the appropriate site can often be as challenging as developing the treatment itself, and can hinder getting otherwise effective medicines to patients. This work represents a good example of how researchers are developing innovative new approaches to get around this problem.”
Over 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, which is characterized by degeneration of the cartilage in joints, causing inflammation, pain and stiffness. It’s usually treated with pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines and cortisone shots.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and progressive joint disease affecting over 250 million people worldwide. Nearly 40 percent of Americans over the age of 45 have some degree of knee OA.