Microcapsules shuttle promising protein to treat osteoarthritis

Microcapsules shuttling CNP--Courtesy of Queen Mary University of London

Building on years of research into the anti-inflammatory and tissue-repairing properties of the protein molecule C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), investigators in the U.K. say they have managed to overcome one of the hurdles that has prevented its use for treating osteoarthritis.

The researchers at Queen Mary University of London say they developed microcapsules only two microns in diameter that contained layers of CNP which were slowly released into damaged areas. Earlier attempts to use CNP had been thwarted by its quick destruction, they add, preventing it from working on the disease.

This time, though, they could track a treatment effect using animal cartilage. And the goal now is to see if they can get the same effect using the same approach in humans.

"If this method can be transferred to patients it could drastically slow the progression of osteoarthritis and even begin to repair damaged tissue," said Dr. Tina Chowdhury from QMUL's School of Engineering and Materials Science. "CNP is currently available to treat other conditions such as skeletal diseases and cardiovascular repair. If we could design simple injections using the microcapsules, this means the technology has the potential to be an effective and relatively cheap treatment that could be delivered in the clinic or at home."

This is the latest example of a number of studies that looks to use new delivery vehicles to deliver more effective doses of therapeutics.

- here's the release