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Nanoparticle injections protect joints from injury

By Tim Sandle     Oct 4, 2016 in Science
A research study, using novel nanoparticles, where the particles are injected into joints, has protected cartilage from damage. This is based on studies in mice.
The basis of the research is with developing a potential treatment for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The primary symptoms, of this widespread condition, are joint pain and stiffness. The primary cause is when protective cartilage (tissue located at the end of bones) starts to erode. The main treatment is pain management through the use of steroids designed to lower inflammation. There is no cure for the lost cartilage.
The study into the newly developed nanoparticles has been undertaken by scientists working at the Washington University in St. Louis. The aim of the nanoparticles is to lower inflammation and to protect cartilage.
The nanoparticles contain a modified peptide. The peptide, once injected, is able to bind to a molecule called small interfering RNA (siRNA). This, based on studies using a mouse model, reduces inflammation within 24 hours. This leads to a decrease in the damage to the cartilage. The reason that cartilage is protected is because, unlike other anti-inflammatory medications, the effects are long-lasting. In addition, the nanoparticles can penetrate deep into tissue and remain inside cartilage cells in joints. In trials the effects were seen to last for several weeks.
Speaking with Bioscience Technology, the lead researcher, Professor Christine Pham said: “I see a lot of patients with osteoarthritis, and there’s really no treatment. We try to treat their symptoms, but even when we inject steroids into an arthritic joint, the drug only remains for up to a few hours, and then it’s cleared. These nanoparticles remain in the joint longer and help prevent cartilage degeneration.”
The findings indicate that if such nanoparticle injections are administered rapidly following a joint injury, they could potentially prevent the development of osteoarthritis. This will need to be proven using human trials.
A secondary stream of research will study the effect of nanoparticles on those already with arthritis to see if there are any benefits. This will again begin with animal trials.
The research outcome has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research is titled “Suppression of NF-kB activity via nanoparticle-based siRNA deliver alters early cartilage responses to injury.”
More about joint injury, Cartilage, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Osteoarthritis
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