2-D nanoparticles can overcome problems with osteoarthritis therapy

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

The nanoclay-based platform for sustained and prolonged delivery of protein therapeutics could improve the treatment of osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that affects nearly 27 million Americans, according to Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Osteoarthritis is caused by breakdown of cartilage that can lead to damage of the underlying bone.

As America’s population ages, osteoarthritis incidences are likely to increase. 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, 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.

In the study, published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Gaharwar’s lab designed two-dimensional 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.

“These nanoparticles could prolong delivery of growth factors to human mesenchymal stem cells, which are commonly utilized in cartilage regeneration,” Gaharwar said. “The sustained delivery of growth factors resulted in enhanced stem cell differentiation towards cartilage lineage and can be used for treatment of osteoarthritis.”

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