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Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have found a brand new way to deliver healing proteins to patients, which could result in a cheap and easy way to treat and control osteoarthritis.
Scientists have long known that a naturally occurring protein molecule called C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) has the abilities to reduce inflammation and repair damaged tissue. However, CNP is easily broken down, meaning it fails to reach the designated damaged area even when injected directly into the site.
To avoid this problem, the team at London constructed tiny microcapsules with individual layers carrying CNP, allowing a gentle release of the protein and effective treatment delivery. Using cartilage samples, they found that this method was able to deliver the anti-inflammatory CNP and was highly effective.
It is hoped that in the future, GPs could quickly and easily use this method on patients suffering from osteoarthritis to treat damage and maybe even control the condition.
Dr Tina Chowdhury, from QMUL's School of Engineering and Materials Science and lead researcher, said if this method could be transferred to patients it could "drastically slow the progression of osteoarthritis" and even start to repair damaged tissue.
Dr Chowdhury said that CNP is currently used to treat other conditions such as skeletal diseases and cardiovascular repair. If simple injections could be developed using the microcapsules, it would be a fairly cheap and easy-to-deliver treatment for patients, she added.
Director of research at Arthritis Research UK Dr Stephen Simpson said current treatments for the condition are "limited", making any new developments a major area of research.
"The focus is not only about identifying promising new targets, as 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," he added.
The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK and the AO Foundation.
Written by Martin Lambert
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