New arthritis treatment uses nanoparticles to take drugs directly into cartilage
The particles are able to travel deep into tissue in ways that other treatments simply can't.
- Osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and the only treatments available merely reduce the pain.
- The new treatment delivers a growth factor into cartilage rather than into the surface of a joint, where it'd be less effective.
- The treatment represents a "significant step for nanomedicines," one professor said, and it could someday be used to slow age-related osteoarthritis, a leading cause of chronic pain and lost productivity at work.
MIT engineers have successfully used nanoparticles to deliver arthritis-treating drugs directly into the cartilage of mice, a development that could greatly improve treatments for the debilitating condition.
The method is outlined in new paper published November 28 in Science Translational Medicine.
Osteoarthritis, a disease in which cartilage in joints gradually degenerates, currently affects more than 20 million people in the U.S. at an annual cost of about $60 billion. Worse are the costs of arthritis-attributable medical care, which have exceeded $300 billion in recent years. The condition can cause severe pain and impaired ability, and it often leaves people unable to work. But despite its far-reaching impacts, the only treatments currently available for osteoarthritis simply manage pain and symptoms.
The new treatment seeks to change that by delivering an experimental drug directly to the source of the degeneration. The goal was to deliver an experimental drug called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) to cells within joints called chondrocytes, which are responsible for producing the cartilage that protects joints.
To do that, MIT engineers devised tiny sphere-shaped nanoparticles with branched structures, called dendrimers, whose tips maintain a positive charge that lets them bind to negatively charged cartilage. They then attached IGF-1 to these nanoparticles and injected them into the injured joints. From there, the nanoparticle-drug combination used its unique charge to travel deep into the joints, where it was able to bind to the chondrocyte receptors and stimulate cartilage growth.
Gieger et al.
After a couple of months, the researchers noticed not only reductions in joint inflammation and bone spur formation in the mice, but also that IGF-1's therapeutic effects lasted significantly longer than current, experimental methods of delivery.
"Delivery of growth factors using nanoparticles in a manner that sustains and improves treatments for osteoarthritis is a significant step for nanomedicines," Kannan Rangaramanujam, a professor of ophthalmology and co-director of the Center for Nanomedicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who wasn't involved in the research, told MIT News.
Still, using this same technique on human joints will require further research and passing clinical trials.
"That is a very hard thing to do. Drugs typically will get cleared before they are able to move through much of the cartilage," Brett Geiger, an MIT graduate student, is the lead author of the paper, told MIT News. "When you start to think about translating this technology from studies in rats to larger animals and someday humans, the ability of this technology to succeed depends on its ability to work in thicker cartilage."
How your body can turn back time
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.
- Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
- Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
- "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.
- Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
- Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
- It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.