OMBUDSMAN ALERT: MIT’s Discovery is Good News for Joints, May Reverse or Slow Down Cartilage Breakdown In Patients Afflicted With Osteoarthritis

Dr. Paula Hammond


As an MIT alumnus who began his teaching career at the institute nearly 60 years ago, I have been privileged to quote Editor Jason Pontin directly from the “MIT Technology Review” and “MIT News” in several of my columns over the last two years. I will now quote the most current article “Good News for Joints” appearing in this month’s MIT News:

“Osteoarthritis is a disease that causes severe joint pain and affects more than 20 million people in the United States. Some drug treatments can help alleviate the pain, but there are no treatments that can reverse or slow the cartilage breakdown associated with the disease.

“In an advance that could improve the treatment options available for osteoarthritis, MIT engineers have designed nanoparticles that can administer drugs directly to the cartilage. The material can penetrate deep, delivering drugs that could potentially heal damaged tissues.

“’This is the way to get directly to the cells that are experiencing the damage and introduce different kinds of therapeutics that might change their behavior,’ said Paula Hammond ’84, Phd ’93, head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and the senior author of the study.

“In rats, Hammond and her colleagues showed that delivering an experimental drug called ‘insulin-like growth factor’ in this manner enabled cartilage regeneration much more effectively than injecting the drug into the joint on its own…The researchers designed their material so that it would remain in the joint after being injected-unlike existing arthritis drugs, which are often cleared from the joint before they can reach the deep layer of chondrocytes that they are meant to target.”

“In summary, the researchers began developing this material in a way to treat osteoarthritis that arises after traumatic injury, but they believe it could also be adapted to treat age-related osteoarthritis.”

The Ombudsman Alert strongly believes that this cutting-edge research directed by Dr. Paula Hammond will change the direction of the medical community in treating and eventually conquering osteoarthritis.

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