Nanotherapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Despite recent advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) attributed to biologic medications, only a minority of patients achieve and maintain disease remission without the need for continuous immunosuppressive therapy.1 Complicating the treatment of RA further is the development of tolerance over time or failure of patients to respond to currently available therapies. Thus, the development of new treatment strategies for RA remains a priority.

Insufficient data regarding long-term toxicity and optimal therapeutic efficacy have hampered integration of nanotherapies into clinical practice. Image Credit: think stock photos

Nanotherapies for RA have received increasing attention in the past decade because they offer several potential advantages compared with conventional systemic therapies. Nanocarriers are submicron transport particles designed to deliver the drug at the site of inflammation — the synovium — thereby maximizing its therapeutic effect and avoiding unwanted systemic adverse effects. This targeted drug delivery approach also has the potential to minimize the amount of drug required to control joint inflammation3 and increase local bioavailability by protecting it from degradation in the circulation.

In essence, nanotechnology enables the “redesign” of already effective rheumatologic medications into nanoformulations that may confer greater specificity, longer therapeutic effect, and more amenable safety profile. Nanoencapsulated nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), liposomal and polymeric preparations of glucocorticoids, and nanosystems that directly inhibit angiogenesis are just several examples of nanotherapies that have been tested in experimental models of inflammatory arthritis.

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