Gel for Your Joints

Injectable gel shows promise for localized treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

(RxWiki News) Most of the current drugs for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are taken by individuals in pill form. Because pills have to be broken down and spread throughout the whole body, these drugs have many side effects and can sometimes take weeks to start working. Now, researchers have made a new RA gel that may fix these problems.

Researchers have developed a gel that can be injected directly to the places in the body that are affected by rheumatoid arthritis. What's more, the gel may be able to recognize when a patient needs medicine.  Which means that it will deliver medication therapy only when a patient is in pain.

"A new pain relief gel could be the future of arthritis treatment."

The concept of this gel might also be applied to treat other conditions such as cancer, eye disease, and heart disease, says lead researcher Jeffrey Karp, co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Additionally, injectable treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, as well as osteoarthritis, run into certain problems. For example, some injected drugs only last as long as a few hours. They also release medicine when it is not needed.

The new gel, on the other hand, seems to last for months and can detect when an arthritic flare-up occurs. This gives the gel the ability to deliver drugs only when needed.

In Depth

After testing the gel on animals, the researchers found:

  • The gel can detect enzymes associated with arthritis, giving it the ability to deliver drugs in an "on-demand manner"
  • The gel lasted for at least two months after being injected in the joints of mice
  • The gel withstood the wear and tear of a moving joint

While the gel has not yet been tested in humans, the researchers believe that it will have significant effects on the localized treatment of many different diseases. 

Review Date: 
April 13, 2011