Recent research suggests that the use of nanoparticles to deliver osteoarthritis drugs to the knee joint could help lengthen the retention of the drug in the knee cavity and reduce the amount of injections required by patients. The data yielded from the study was recently presented at the 2011 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, DC.

Michael Morgen, PhD, of Bend Research, headquartered in Bend, Ore, and Pfizer, New York City, led the study, which focused on using injectable nanoparticles to retain osteoarthritis drugs in the knee joint. According to the study’s results, 70% of the drug nanoparticles remained in the knee cavity after 1 week following treatment. In contrast, the current pain relief treatment allows the drug to remain in the joint 1 day to 2 days.

Researchers explain that positively charged nanoparticles carrying a drug for treatment attach to negatively charged, naturally occurring molecules in the knee. Together, the nanoparticles and naturally occurring molecules form a gel, which slows the drug’s escape from the knee cavity.

Morgen says the current delivery methods do not allow for the retention of the drug, which in turn limits the effectiveness of therapeutic agents. For this reason, “We hope that this type of sustained release technology, when used with current or new osteoarthritis drugs, will allow patients to be effectively treated with drug injections every 3 months instead of once a week.”

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[Source: American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists]