Potential Gel Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Hydrogel had been reported to successfully treat targeted tissues in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Hydrogel had been reported to successfully treat targeted tissues in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) recently concluded in Science Translational Medicine, that lab-created hydrogel could potentially serve to deliver drugs in IBD through enemas specifically targeting inflamed tissues.

The experts used US approved ascorbyl plamitate (AP) and corticosteroid drugs routinely used for IBD treatment to create the gel that would only disassemble to release the drug on contact with specific IBD enzymes.

Using mice models, the researchers noticed the drugs delivered through hydrogels diminished inflammation more effectively (5-10 times lower concentrations of the drugs) than through treatment with traditional enemas.

The team found that the hydrogel worked by attaching itself to inflammation sites, gradually releasing drug doses over an extended period of time.

Jeff Karp, PhD, associate professor Brigham and Women's Hospital, commented, “We realized that if we could develop a disease-targeted hydrogel system that rapidly attaches to ulcers and slowly release drugs at the site of inflammation, then we could create a better way to deliver medicine only where the drug is needed.”

Joerg Ermann, MD, rheumatologist, BWH, concluded, “We have found that the hydrogel approach works well in mice and our data look promising that it might also be an effective strategy in humans with inflammatory bowel disease of the colon.”

As such, the research team surmised this discovery could eventually pave the road for an enema — likely one without systemic side effects – that IBD patients would only have to use once a week.