New transport system for drug delivery in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Extracellular vesicles in rheumatoid arthritis (EVRA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is among the most common inflammatory diseases of the joints. It is a progressive disease associated with increasing physical impairment. Treatment costs and loss of working ability place a substantial burden on the healthcare system.

Effective transport systems for drug delivery are essential in the fight against diseases

© Fraunhofer ITEM

Nanotransporters have gained in importance as biomolecular agents, since they have been proven to improve therapeutic efficacy. Among the most common limitations for their clinical translation, however, are cytotoxicity of the existing materials and their instability in the bloodstream. Extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stromal cells should overcome these limitations.

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are a heterogeneous cell population with the ability to reduce inflammation. MSC-derived extracellular vesicles transport these anti-inflammatory properties of the cells. They remain in the bloodstream for a long time and can migrate through the blood-brain barrier and synovial membranes. In addition, they have low cytotoxicity and are well tolerated after transfusion.

The project aims to genetically modify MSCs in such a way that they use the natural packaging mechanism of the cells to release anti-inflammatory cytokines with their extracellular vesicles.

Outlook

The project aims to genetically modify mesenchymal stromal cells to overexpress anti-inflammatory molecules and release them via extracellular vesicles. These will be characterized by molecular and cell biological analyses. The immunomodulatory properties can then be determined in animal models and therapeutic concepts can be derived.