Harvard/MIT group sees promise of a targeted IBD drug delivery tech

Examples of hydrogel structures at lower (left) and higher (right) magnifications--Courtesy of MIT

A group of specialists drawn from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Mass General and MIT have come up with a new delivery technology that they believe could make a radical difference for patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

The researchers set out to come up with a delivery vehicle that could get a treatment right where it's needed, a strategy that allows a concentrated therapeutic attack. To do that, they developed a hydrogel which relies on negatively-charged ascorbyl plamitate that would adhere to positively-charged regions of tissue damage--which is characteristic of ulcerative colitis.

Their material was loaded with a corticosteroid and then delivered, with the enzymes attracted to the site of the damage doing the job of slicing the delivery vehicle open to release the therapeutic cargo.

Harvard's Jeff Karp

"These patients require frequent dosing, sometimes multiple times a day with enema-based therapy," says Jeff Karp, who works in the BWH Department of Medicine and is a principal investigator at Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Based on their work with mouse models and human tissue samples, he adds in an interview with FierceBiotech Research, this new method could dramatically reduce the number of enemas needed. They also found significantly reduced quantities of the steroid in the blood stream, helping to avoid immune suppression which could harm the patient in other ways.

This project, which Karp says got started 4 years ago,  also opens the door to a simple new technology that could be easily available in Third World countries while also raising fresh possibilities for new and experimental IBD drugs that could benefit from the same targeted delivery method.

"The newer drug can potentially alter the disease course," says Karp, with a disease-modifying effect that could extend remission and prevent ulcers from coming back. What he would really like to do now is partner with some biopharma companies in the field and start new projects, while turning the team's attention to larger animal models such as dogs and pigs.

- here's the release

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