New York, Sep 17 : Scientists have created a smart drug delivery system that reduces inflammation in damaged nervous tissues and may help treat spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders.
The system, which uses extremely thin biomaterials implanted in the body, also protects nerve fibres (axons) that connect nerve cells in injured neural tissues, according to a study in the journal Advanced Materials.
Inflammation typically is a major factor during recovery from central nervous system diseases and injuries.
Some regenerative medicine approaches have shown great potential for treating spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and other neurological disorders.
But suppressing the immune system during treatment can lead to side effects and boost the risk of infection.
"A major goal is to suppress neuroinflammation and restore a healthy micro-environment at sites of neurological disorders," said senior author Ki Bum Lee, Professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the US.
"Our system took four years to develop and has shown enormous potential for smart drug delivery for better treatment of neurological disorders," Lee added.
The team's unique drug delivery system consists of ultrathin nanomaterials, sugar polymers and neural proteins.
The system, which releases an anti-inflammatory molecule (methylprednisolone), can create a favourable micro-environment to promote tissue repair and recovery after neurological injury.
By developing innovative, multifunctional and reliable drug delivery systems that use nano-bio materials, Lee's research group aims to improve the treatment of neurological disorders.
The team believes the new system may pave the way for treating not only central nervous system injuries but also other diseases, since inflammation is generally associated with a variety of problems such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes and cancer.