Researchers develop new approach to treating osteoarthritis

Washington: Researchers have now developed a new way to deliver treatment for cartilage regeneration.

The study, conducted at Texas A&M University was led by Dr. Akhilesh K. Gaharwar.

Gagarwar said the nanoclay-based platform for sustained and prolonged delivery of protein therapeutics has the potential to impact treating osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that affects nearly 27 million Americans and is caused by breakdown of cartilage that can lead to damage of the underlying bone.

According to study experts, one of the greatest challenges with treating osteoarthritis and subsequent joint damage is repairing the damaged tissue, especially as cartilage tissue is difficult to regenerate.

One method for repair or regeneration of damaged cartilage tissue is to deliver therapeutic growth factors. Growth factors are a special class of proteins that can aid in tissue repair and regeneration. However, current versions of growth factors break down quickly and require a high dose to achieve a therapeutic potential. Recent clinical studies have demonstrated significant adverse effects to this kind of treatment, including uncontrolled tissue formation and inflammation.

The study, published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, sees Gaharwar’s lab designing two-dimensional (2D) mineral nanoparticles to deliver growth factors for a prolonged duration to overcome this drawback. These nanoparticles provide a high surface area and dual charged characteristics that allow for easy electrostatic attachment of growth factors.

Speaking about it, Gaharwar said, “These nanoparticles could prolong delivery of growth factors to human mesenchymal stem cells, which are commonly utilised in cartilage regeneration.”

He further added, “The sustained delivery of growth factors resulted in enhanced stem cell differentiation towards cartilage lineage and can be used for treatment of osteoarthritis.”

Senior author of the study Dr Lauren M. Cross said, “By utilising the nanoparticle for therapeutic delivery it is possible to induce robust and stable differentiation of stem cells.”

Cross further added, “In addition, prolonged delivery of the growth factor could reduce overall costs by reducing growth factor concentration as well as minimizing the negative side effects.”