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Biodegradable particles mimic white blood cells, target inflamed tissue, new study finds

ATHENS, Ohio Scientists have developed biodegradable polymers that can mimic the ability of white blood cells to target inflamed blood vessel walls, according to a new study led by Ohio University researchers. The finding could be the first step in developing drugs that suppress specific sites of inflammation in medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers found that biodegradable beads coated with targeting molecules can travel through the bloodstream and effectively stick to the site of tissue inflammation, a symptom of various diseases, according to the study, which will be published in the Dec. 23 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists are interested in drugs made from biodegradable polymers because they can be easily prepared, have a long shelf life and can be designed to release specific doses of medication, according to the study.

When the body suffers from a bacterial infection or a wound, the white blood cells, or leukocytes, adhere to the site to treat the problem. But in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, heart disease or inflammatory bowel disease, leukocytes accumulate in an area where they aren't needed and cause or progressively worsen the disease.

To address that issue, Ohio University researcher Douglas Goetz and colleagues Justin Hanes of Johns Hopkins University, Kevin Shakesheff of the University of Nottingham in England, Mohammad Kiani of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and David Kurjiaka of Ohio University have been studying whether biodegradable particles could be used to mimic the activity of leukocytes, traveling to the exact site of the inflammatory disease in the body and delivering treatment. Conventional drugs treat pathological inflammation, but may impact healthy tissue too.

"Can we take a particle and give it the same surface chemistry as the leukocyte and make it go where the leukocyte goes?"
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Contact: Andrea Gibson
gibsona@ohio.edu
740-593-0946
Ohio University
17-Dec-2003


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