Soaking Up Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research Returns Encouraging Results in Disease Attenuation and Prevention

Working with mouse models, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, report that they have developed neutrophil “nanosponges” that can arrest the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and, when injected early on, can prevent the development of the disease. Senior author Liangfang Zhang, PhD, a nanoengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, commented, “Nanosponges are a new paradigm of treatment to block pathological molecules from triggering disease in the body. Rather than creating treatments to block a few specific types of pathological molecules, we are developing a platform that can block a broad spectrum of them, and this way we can treat and prevent disease more effectively and efficiently.” In mice with severe rheumatoid arthritis, injected nanosponges reduced swelling and protected joints from additional damage. When administered to healthy mice, they also blocked attempts to induce the disease. The research was reported last week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The nanosponges are composed of nanoparticles of biodegradable polymer that is coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils. These are associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis via a process of inflammatory cascade in which cells in the joints produce cytokines, that signal neutrophils to enter the joints. Cytokines then bind to the neutrophil surface receptors, triggering the release of more cytokines, that then attract more neutrophils. The nanosponges act as neutrophil decoys, intercepting cytokines and arresting the signaling process that aggravates inflammation and causes joint damage. In comparison to existing rheumatoid arthritis treatments using monoclonal antibody drugs, the nanosponges neutralize a broader range of cytokines to better control disease progression.

Read about the discovery.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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