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Scientists at the Institute for Basic Science have invented a hydrogel capable of delivering drug at sites of inflammation in disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Published in Advanced Materials, this jelly-like material could be used to absorb extra fluids in swelling joints and release drugs wherever nitric oxide is produced in abundance.
Nitric oxide (NO) is produced withing inflamed joints and mediates many of the functions that augment rheumaatoid inflammation. This new hydrogel targets NO, a transient gas
The polymeric acrylamide hydrogel has little toxicity, can absorb a large amount of water and has a NO cross-linking agent (NOCCL) forms bridges between the acrylamide molecules creating a net, which can trap drug molecules inside. When NO cleaves the NOCCL bridges, the gel changes its structure, frees the drug and absorbs new liquid.
In this study researchers showed that the NOCCL crosslinking agent can selectively and sensitively react with NO. The next step is to use a nano-sized hydrogel in a RA mouse model.
These hydrogels could be useful for other diseases characterized by overexpression of NO, or maybe even as environmental sensors, since NO is also a polluting gas emitted in vehicle exhaust.