A team of researchers from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital has discovered that a hydrogel formula can accurately target and deliver medication to inflamed tissues, which shows promise for using the method as an effective treatment option for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Researchers started by developing a hydrogel formula in the lab using ascorbyl palmitate (AP), a negatively charged ingredient that anchors to positively charged tissue damage in the body. The gel also included a corticosteroid that’s commonly used for treating IBD. The gel is designed to release the corticosteroid drug only when it comes into contact with a particular enzyme that appears at the point of inflammation.
Researchers first tested their hydrogel on mice that were genetically modified to have the IBD condition known as ulcerative colitis. They found that the drugs administered via the gel actually relieved the inflammation better than when it was delivered using the more traditional method of enemas (injected through the rectum). There was also less of the drug in the mice’s bloodstream when the drugs were delivered using the gel.
Next, the researchers tested the hydrogel on human tissue samples extracted from ulcerative colitis patients. As expected, the gel clearly demonstrated that it was drawn more to the inflamed areas than to healthy tissue, showing that it is unlikely to affect the healthy tissue surrounding the inflammation associated with IBD.
The next step will be to test the hydrogel with other drugs, along with conducting preclinical tests, before moving on to trials with human subjects.
IBD is estimated to affect over one million people in the U.S. alone, with numbers expected to rise worldwide. IBD includes a group of debilitating, chronic intestinal conditions including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Zhang, S., et al., “An inflammation-targeting hydrogel for local drug delivery in inflammatory bowel disease,” Science Translational Medicine 2015; http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/7/300/300ra128, 7(300): 300ra128.
Paddock, C., “Inflammatory bowel disease may be treatable with gel-delivered drugs,” Medical News Today web site, August 14, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298148.php.