Excess nitric oxide (NO) in the body is involved in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Reducing the amount of NO may lead to a new therapeutic approach for a variety of conditions. Researchers at the Pohang University of Science & Technology in South Korea have developed an NO-scavenging nanogel and tested it in mice with rheumatoid arthritis with promising results.
The gel is made through polymerization between acrylamide and NO-cleavable crosslinkers. It is not designed to regulate the production of NO, but rather to consume it and thereby reduce its effects without the side-effects of current treatments. The nanogel was compared with the commonly used drug dexamethasone, and it proved to be much better at slowing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, pointing to the potential for human studies in the near future.
“The drugs that have been used for suppressing NO affect biomolecules in the body directly, and this brings various side effects such as insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease,” said Prof. Won Jong Kim, one of the leads of the study, in an announcement. “But this nano-sized hydrogel has demonstrated many meaningful results: that it is more effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis by scavenging NO directly, and has decreased the possibility of the side effects caused by the current drugs that we use today.”