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Folate-based nanodevices for arthritis

Chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affect over 80 million people worldwide. Anti-arthritis drugs in current use have limited efficacy and are associated with high costs, allergic reactions and potentially lethal side-effects.
Folate-based nanodevices for arthritis
The number of people suffering from inflammatory conditions is only expected to rise. Administration of drugs such as methotrexate (MTX) for RA patients has been associated with increased lethargy. There is therefore an urgent need for innovative theragnostic devices to effectively treat such disorders.

Cells known as activated macrophages are associated with chronic inflammation and certain folates are indicators or markers of inflammation.
To treat chronic inflammation, the EU-funded NANOFOL project worked on developing cost-effective folate-based nanobiodevices (FBNs) with low side-effects and good stability.

NANOFOL members constructed nanovehicles using nanoparticles with folate on their surfaces.

The nanovehicles also carryanti-inflammatory drugs such as MTX or small interfering ribonucleic acid molecules (siRNAs) and/or imaging agents. In vitro and in vivo studies (on arthritic mice) confirmed that the vehicles are bioactive, stable, non-cytotoxic and specific to folate receptor beta (FRß). The researchers also worked on identifying other markers by screening surface proteins associated with folates using immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry. Several candidate antigens could be used in the development of bispecific antibody-based FBNs.

In parallel, NANOFOL also conducted life-cycle, socio-economic and nano-safety analyses to ensure that eventual commercial exploitation of this technology is safe and cost-effective. Project outcomes were disseminated in conferences/congresses as well as publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Overall, the liposomal FBNs carrying MTX proved far superior in terms of desired bioavailability, lower secondary effects, specificity and therapeutic efficacy in comparison to MTX alone. Besides RA, FBNs could also be used in treatment of other conditions like cancer as cancer cells also express high levels of folate receptors on their surface.

The cancer market alone is estimated to be worth billions of dollars suggesting the high commercial viability of FBNs. Such technology could improve patient outcomes while significantly reducing their hospitalisation time and healthcare expenses. Commercialisation or technology transfer will also improve the visibility and competitiveness of the NANOFOL business partners as well as the European healthcare industry.

Related information


Inflammatory, rheumatoid arthritis, methotrexate, folate-based, nanobiodevices, encapsulated, liposomal, drugs, non-cytotoxic, antibody, bioavailability
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