What if a drug was flexible enough to reach the site of a wound or illness, give relief when necessary, stop releasing medicine when pain is gone, and start releasing it again if an illness progresses or discomfort re emerges? Well, it’s here, and this gel substance, a hydrogel likened to Jello, is showing a lot of promise.
Researchers at the Laboratory for Accelerated Medical Innovation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed the substance and it works by being drawn to inflammations sites in the body. The gel senses inflammation and slowly delivers medicine to fight ailments such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis and mucositis, for example.
The beauty about the gel is it can be injected directly the site of pain and it responds to the level of inflammation around it, delivering the appropriate dosage. So if an arthritic patient gets injected with this gel, the medication will activate only in response to the site causing an episode, pain or swelling. However, if the gel is around healthy tissue, it will not release any medication, it will remain in tact.
“There are lots of enzymes present in inflammation that can degrade the gel...That breakdown of the gel releases the drug it carries,” Jeff Karp, the principal investigator told The Atlantic publication.
Another use for the gel could be radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. It could work to relieve the painful mouth ulcers that mucositis. They’re typically developed from exposure to high levels of radiation.
Kerp says if these painful side effects are alleviated, more patients would be likely to go through completing their scheduled course of therapy, and in return, patients with head and neck cancers could experience higher survival rates.
With regular treatments, patients often face their entire system having to deal with side effects from drug treats. The fact that this targeted method of drug delivery attaches to areas of inflammation more than healthy tissues was done by design, allowing medication to be spaced out in longer intervals to be less topic and more effective.
The most current application for the gel treatment has been used in limb transplantation.
A hind limb from a black rat transplanted to a white rat is typically rejected around 11 days later, but a regular immune suppressant extends that time period to 33 days.
However, with an injection of the hydrogel containing the same drug, the leg was maintained up to 150 days later.
The possibilities for this technology also extend beyond inflammation; more studies using the hydrogel are underway. To learn more, visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150812151216.htm