Investigating the potential of drug delivery directly to damaged cartilage

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Dianne Cooper

Organisation - Queen Mary University of London

Type of grant - Research Progression Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £138,797.94

Start date - 2 July 2018

Reference - 21941

Public Summary

This research progression award uses remaining funds from a previous fellowship which ended earlier than planned due to unforeseen circumstances. Find out more about the original award here.

What are the aims of this research?

When a joint develops osteoarthritis, cartilage covering the ends of the bones gradually roughens and becomes thin. Previous research has shown that small packages of proteins released by cells, known as microvesicles, are able to provide protection to cartilage. This aim of this research is to investigate how this protection is provided. The researchers will also explore the possibility of loading these protein packages with drugs, so that they can be used to directly target damaged cartilage.

Why is this research important?

Current treatments for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis do not prevent the breakdown of the cartilage in the joints. These microvesicles released by cells of the immune system have been shown to trigger the body's own repair mechanisms, promoting repair of cartilage inside the joint. The researchers will investigate how the protein packages are able to enter the cartilage and then go on to protect the joint during arthritis. They will then look at whether it is possible to use these packages for delivery of drugs direct to the damaged cartilage.

How will the findings benefit patients?

The future potential of this research could allow us to take a blood sample from patients, load the patient’s own microvesicles with treatments that are currently used routinely in clinical practice, and deliver them directly to their affected joints via injection. The injection of the treatment into the joints would be a much better, less invasive option than surgery for patients.