Andrés García, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Robert Guldberg, PhD (U of Oregon)
Susan Thomas, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Nick Willett, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology)
James Dahlman, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Designing an Injectable Tissue-Specific Small Molecule Drug Delivery System for Osteoarthritis Treatment
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint degenerative disease involving different processes in the articular cartilage, the synovium and subchondral bone. Currently there are no approved disease modifying drugs for OA in part because of the scarcity of appropriate drug delivery vehicles and the lack of understanding of drug effects on different intra-articular tissues. Therefore, this project aims to (i) develop poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) microgels containing drug-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic) (PLGA) nanoparticles for the sustained release of small molecule drugs, (ii) to achieve specific cartilage and synovium PEG microgels binding though their functionalization with targeting peptides and (iii) to evaluate the safety and targeting efficiency of the peptide-functionalized PEG microgels in a rat model of OA. This work will provide a platform for the controlled release of small molecule drugs able to target tissues involved in OA progression such as articular cartilage and synovium. Also, considering that PEG microgels could also be used for the encapsulation of proteins and cells, this work may provide a better tool to study the effects of a combination of therapeutic strategies (small molecules, proteins and cells) on specific joint tissues. This work is expected to contribute to the screening of therapy strategies and the development of a tissue-specific treatment to prevent OA progression.