Posts Tagged ‘pharmaceutical drugs’

Overview of New Strategy for Treatment of T2DM: SGLT2 Inhibiting Oral Antidiabetic Agents


Author and Curator: Aviral Vatsa, PhD, MBBS

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic disease, which is affecting widespread populations in epidemic proportions across the globe 1. It is characterised by hyperglycemia, which if not controlled adequately, eventually leads to microvascular and metabolic complications (Fig 1). Traditionally, T2DM management includes alteration in lifestyle, oral hypoglycemic agents and/or insulin. The present pharmacological approaches predominantly target glucose metabolism by compensating for reduction in insulin secretion and/or insulin action. However, these approaches are often limited by inadequate glucose control and the the possibility of severe adverse effects such as hypoglycemia, weight gain, nausea, and sometimes lactic acidosis 2–4 (Fig 1). Hence the search for new drugs with different mechanism of action and with little side affects is key in providing better glycemic control in T2DM patients and hence offering better prognosis with reduced morbidity and mortality.

Figure 1 (credit: aviral vatsa): Short overview of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): complications, present therapeutic approaches and their limitations.

Along with pancreas, our kidneys play a vital role in regulating glucose levels in the plasma. Under physiological conditions, kidneys absorb 99% of the plasma glucose filtered through the renal glomeruli tubules. Majority i.e. 80-90% of this renal glucose resorbtion is mediated via the sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) 5,6. SGLT2 is a high-capacity low-affinity transporter that is mainly located in the proximal segment S1 of the proximal convoluted tubule 6. Inhibition of SGLT2 activity can thus induce glucosuria which inturn can lower blood glucose levels without targeting insulin resistance and insulin secretion pathways of glucose modulation (Fig 2).

Figure 2 (credit: aviral vatsa): Schematic overview of regulation of plasma glucose by sodium glucose co-transporter (SGLT).

Thus inhibition of SGLT2 provides a novel way to modulate blood glucose levels and consequently limit long term complications of hyperglycemia 7,8. Moreover, SGLT2 inhibitors will selectively target the renal glucose transportation and spare the counter regulatory hormones involved in glucose metabolism because SGLT2 is almost exclusively located in the kidneys. This novel way of glucose modulation will likely avoid severe side affects, e.g. hypoglycemia and weight gain, that are seen with present antidiabetic pharmacological agents.

Agents currently under development

Table below gives an overview of the SGLT2 inhibotors in development.

(Credit: Chao et al 2010)


In summary, increasing urinary glucose excretion represents a new approach to addressing the challenge of hyperglycaemia. SGLT2 inhibitors may have indications both in the prevention and treatment of T2DM, and perhaps T1DM, with a possible application in obesity. Further studies in large numbers of human subjects are necessary to delineate efficacy, safety and how to most effectively use these agents in the treatment of diabetes.


  1. Diabetes Atlas. International Diabetes Federation, (2009) at <>
  2. Intensive blood-glucose control with sulphonylureas or insulin compared with conventional treatment and risk of complications in patients with type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 33). UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group. Lancet 352, 837–853 (1998).
  3. Buse, J. B. et al. Effects of exenatide (exendin-4) on glycemic control over 30 weeks in sulfonylurea-treated patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 27, 2628–2635 (2004).
  4. Inzucchi, S. E. Oral antihyperglycemic therapy for type 2 diabetes: scientific review. JAMA 287, 360–372 (2002).
  5. Brown, G. K. Glucose transporters: Structure, function and consequences of deficiency. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease 23, 237–246 (2000).
  6. Wright, E. M. Renal Na+-glucose cotransporters. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 280, F10–F18 (2001).
  7. Chao, E. C. & Henry, R. R. SGLT2 inhibition — a novel strategy for diabetes treatment. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 9, 551–559 (2010).
  8. Ferrannini, E. & Solini, A. SGLT2 inhibition in diabetes mellitus: rationale and clinical prospects. Nature Reviews Endocrinology 8, 495–502 (2012).



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Report on the Fall Mid-Atlantic Society of Toxicology Meeting “Reproductive Toxicology of Biologics: Challenges and Considerations.  Author, Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The fall 2012 Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Society of Toxicology (MASOT) focused on the challenges and solutions in developing proper Development and Reproductive Toxicology (DART) studies with regards to the newer classes of bio-therapeutics such as vaccines, antibody-based therapies, and viral-based therapies.  The full meeting and MASOT links can be found at   The overall synopsis of the meeting talks agreed, that although the general aim and design of DART studies for biological are very similar to DART studies for small molecule therapeutics, it is more necessary to take into consideration the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetic differences between biologics and small molecules.   In addition it is imperative to use pharmacologically-relevant species, such as non-rodent (guinea pig and non-human primate). The meeting was highlighted by the keynote speaker, Dr. A. Wallace Hayes, renowned board-certified toxicologist, committee and expert panel member for National Academy of Sciences, NIEHS, EPA and Department of Defense, and editor of well-known textbooks including Principles and Methods of Toxicology.  Dr. Hayes discussed a timeline of milestones in the field of toxicology.

The following are the meeting talk abstracts as well as notes for each presenter.

What’s So Different About DART Assessment of Biologics? Christopher Bowman Ph.D., DABT (Pfizer, Inc.)

Abstract:  The aim of developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) safety assessment of a biologic is no different from that of a small molecule. Both cases consist of evaluating the potential for maternal toxicity, pre- and postnatal development toxicity (including juvenile toxicity) and effects of fertility (reproduction).  The differences lie in the in the product attributes of a specific biologic, the pharmacological response, the potential for undesirable toxicities and how these product attributes influence and are influenced by the biology.  Thus the primary challenge for developing a DART strategy for a biologic are derived from the complexities of these biomolecules and how that dictates a case-by-case strategy for appropriately evaluating the potential for developmental and reproductive toxicity. Most protein biologics have very limited potential for off-target toxicities, but this is not necessarily the case for other modalities such as anti-sense oligonucleotides and antibody-drug-conjugates.  In these cases, off-target toxicities can be a major feature of the DART safety assessment.  The most noticeable difference in DART assessment of biologics is the need to conduct these studies in pharmacologically relevant species and how that can influence the overall nonclinical strategy (including DART).  This has led to increased use of non-human primates as a model system and led to optimizations of this model for this purpose and revisions to international guidelines.

Notes:   Dr. Bowman emphasized the need to understand the type of biological you are testing and to both devise DART studies based on this information, additional endpoint you may want, as well as carefully choosing the correct species most relevant to the biologic.  He highlighted general differences between small molecules versus a biologic with respect to their pharmacology.  These differences are summarized in the Table below:

  Small Molecule Biologic-based therapy
Species specificity Low High
Route of administration Usually oral Parental
ADME (PK, bio-distribution etc.) Wide distribution Low distribution

He noted that clinical trials for biologics rarely include reproductive toxicity so the preclinical DART study is of utmost importance.  He also emphasized that currently, the FDA requires two species for DART testing of small molecule therapies (usually one rodent and one non-rodent).  However this is not possible with many biologics as species is to be taken in consideration when designing a meaningful DART study.  Study designs can be like most DART studies but want to have a steady exposure during fetal organogenesis, use high doses (10 times the clinical dose) to achieve maximal pharmacology, confirm exposure to fetus and to F1 generation, and determine embryolethality.  Some biologics like interferon and insulin-growth factor receptor (IGFR) antagonists are fetal abortifactants. In fact Lucentis (Ranibizumab) and Macugen (Pegaptanib) were approved with no or little DART studies, however these drugs showed reproductive toxicity, resulting in warning concerning pregnancy on the label. Also important is the effect on the immune system and reproductive system of offspring, as well as the pharmacodynamics profile in the offspring.

Species Selection for Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity Testing of Biologics; Elise M. Lewis, Ph.D. (Charles River Preclinical Services)

Abstract:  Regulatory guidelines for developmental and reproductive toxicology studies require selection of “relevant” animal models as determined by kinetic, pharmacological, and preceding toxicological data.  Rats, mice, and rabbits are the preferred animal models for these studies based on historical experience and well-established procedures and study protocols.  However, due to species specificity and immunogenicity issues, developmental and reproductive toxicology testing for biologics is limited to a pharmacologically relevant animal model as described in the ICH s6 guideline.

Notes:  Dr. Lewis notes that DART studies in guinea pigs and hamsters represent a cost effective alternative to large animal models as well as the benefit of shorter duration and ability to assess mating behavior.  She also notes that reproductive toxicology of vaccines should be done in an animal model that can elicit an immune-response to the vaccine, especially to determine any maternal-fetal interaction.  For example, a vaccine may be directed to a maternal protein which when suppressed, may negatively impact the developing fetus.  However it is important to remember that guinea pigs can spontaneously abort so it is good to have proper control arms of a substantial size in order to statistically determine the impact of those spontaneous abortions.



Placental Transfer of an Adnectin Protein During Organogenesis in Guinea Pigs Using a Radiolabeled Methodology; Lakshmi Sivaraman, Ph.D. (Bristol-Myers Squibb)

Abstract:  Knowledge regarding the placental transfer of large molecular weight therapeutics is important to support the enrollment of women of childbearing potential in clinical trials.  There is limited information in the scientific literature that reports the extent to which the conceptus is exposed to these large molecules during organogenesis.  Placental transfer of large therapeutics has been difficult to quantify, due to limited blood volumes that can be obtained from the embryo, as well as insufficient assay sensitivity.  Thus, it is possible that embryos are exposed to pharmacologically active concentrations after maternal drug exposure. We have adopted a radiolabeled approach to quantitate embryo-fetal exposure of a novel protein therapeutic platform (adnectins). Adnectins are fibronectin-based proteins containing domains engineered to bind to targets of therapeutic interests.

Notes: Adnectins molecular weight is typically less than monoclonal antibodies and while IgG is not transferred in great quantity past the placental barrier there have been studies in human indicating maternal-fetal transfer of monoclonal antibodies.  This is particularly important for two reasons:  the monoclonal interacts with a target important in development, or the fetal immune system could be augmented.  Their work will be published in Drug Metabolism and Disposition.  In general Dr. Siveraman engineered a radiolabel on adnectin and used different detection methods to quantify the fetal exposure to a single maternal dose.  Dr. Siverman was able to detect radiolabel in the fetus however it is not clear whether this is a significant amount.

Reproductive Toxicity Testing for Biological Products in Nonhuman Primates: Evolution and Current Perspectives: Gary J. Chellman, Ph.D., DABT (Charles River Preclinical Services)

Notes:  Dr. Chellman gave a review of the current trends being driven by regulatory agencies with regard to nonhuman primate DART studies of biopharmaceuticals.  He noted that an advantage using nonhuman primates were the close physiologic resemblance to humans and because a large animal could monitor pregnancy over time using ultrasound technology.  In general, Dr. Chellman spoke about new study designs which not only reduce the number of animals required but also significantly reduce costs.  For example, a DART study which cost upward of $750,000 now can be done for as little as $350,000.  Dr. Kary Thompson of Bristol Myers Squibb then gave a talk about use of these new enhanced designs to determine reproductive toxicity issues with ipilimumab (Yervoy).

Other research papers on Pharmaceutical Intelligence and Reproductive Biology, Bio Insrumentation, Endocrinology Genetics were published on this Scientific Web site as follows

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer drugs – where does the Future lie?

Reboot evidence-based medicine and reconsider the randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Every sperm is sacred: Sequencing DNA from individual cells vs “humans as a whole.”

Leptin and Puberty

Gene Trap Mutagenesis in Reproductive Research

Genes involved in Male Fertility and Sperm-egg Binding

Hope for Male Contraception: A small molecule that inhibits a protein important for chromatin organization can cause reversible sterility in male mice

Pregnancy with a Leptin-Receptor Mutation

The contribution of comparative genomic hybridization in reproductive medicine

Sperm collide and crawl the walls in chaotic journey to the ovum

Impact of evolutionary selection on functional regions: The imprint of evolutionary selection on ENCODE regulatory elements is manifested between species and within human populations

Biosimilars: CMC Issues and Regulatory Requirements

Biosimilars: Intellectual Property Creation and Protection by Pioneer and by Biosimilar Manufacturers

Assisted Reproductive Technology Cycles and Cumulative Birth Rates

Innovations in Bio instrumentation in Reproductive Clinical and Male Fertility Labs in the US

Increased risks of obesity and cancer, Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes: The role of Tumor-suppressor phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN)

Guidelines for the welfare and use of animals in cancer research

Every sperm is sacred: Sequencing DNA from individual cells vs “humans as a whole.”



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Curator/Reporter: Aviral Vatsa PhD MBBS

This post is in the second part of the reviews that focuses on the current status of drug delivery to bone and the issues facing this field. The first part can be accessed here

Annual treatment costs for musculoskeletal diseases in the US are roughly 7.7% (~ $849 billion) of total gross domestic product. Such disorders are the main cause of physical disability in US. Almost half of all chronic conditions in people can be attributed to bone and joint disorders. In addition there is increasing ageing population and associated increases in osteoporosis and other diseases, rising incidences of degenerative intervertebral disk diseases and numbers of revision orthopedic arthroplasty surgeries, and increases in spinal fusions. All these factors contribute towards the increasing requirement of bone regeneration and reconstruction methods and products. Delivery of therapeutic grade products to bone has various challenges. Parenteral administration limits the efficient delivery of drugs to the required site of injury and local delivery methods are often expensive and invasive. The theme issue of Advance Drug Delivery reviews focuses on the current status of drug delivery to bone and the issues facing this field. Here is the second part of these reviews and research articles.

1. Targeting polymer therapeutics to bone [1]


An aging population in the developing world has led to an increase in musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis and bone metastases. Left untreated many bone diseases cause debilitating pain and in the case of cancer, death. Many potential drugs are effective in treating diseases but result in side effects preventing their efficacy in the clinic. Bone, however, provides a unique environment of inorganic solids, which can be exploited in order to effectively target drugs to diseased tissue. By integration of bone targeting moieties to drug-carrying water-soluble polymers, the payload to diseased area can be increased while side effects decreased. The realization of clinically relevant bone targeted polymer therapeutics depends on (1) understanding bone targeting moiety interactions, (2) development of controlled drug delivery systems, as well as (3) understanding drug interactions. The latter makes it possible to develop bone targeted synergistic drug delivery systems.

2. Development of macromolecular prodrug for rheumatoid arthritis [2]


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that is considered to be one of the major public health problems worldwide. The development of therapies that target tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and co-stimulatory pathways that regulate the immune system have revolutionized the care of patients with RA. Despite these advances, many patients continue to experience symptomatic and functional impairment. To address this issue, more recent therapies that have been developed are designed to target intracellular signaling pathways involved in immunoregulation. Though this approach has been encouraging, there have been major challenges with respect to off-target organ side effects and systemic toxicities related to the widespread distribution of these signaling pathways in multiple cell types and tissues. These limitations have led to an increasing interest in the development of strategies for the macromolecularization of anti-rheumatic drugs, which could target them to the inflamed joints. This approach enhances the efficacy of the therapeutic agent with respect to synovial inflammation, while markedly reducing non-target organ adverse side effects. In this manuscript, we provide a comprehensive overview of the rational design and optimization of macromolecular prodrugs for treatment of RA. The superior and the sustained efficacy of the prodrug may be partially attributed to their Extravasation through Leaky Vasculature and subsequent Inflammatory cell-mediated Sequestration (ELVIS) in the arthritic joints. This biologic process provides a plausible mechanism, by which macromolecular prodrugs preferentially target arthritic joints and illustrates the potential benefits of applying this therapeutic strategy to the treatment of other inflammatory diseases.


3. Peptide-based delivery to bone [3]


Peptides are attractive as novel therapeutic reagents, since they are flexible in adopting and mimicking the local structural features of proteins. Versatile capabilities to perform organic synthetic manipulations are another unique feature of peptides compared to protein-based medicines, such as antibodies. On the other hand, a disadvantage of using a peptide for a therapeutic purpose is its low stability and/or high level of aggregation. During the past two decades, numerous peptides were developed for the treatment of bone diseases, and some peptides have already been used for local applications to repair bone defects in the clinic. However, very few peptides have the ability to form bone themselves. We herein summarize the effects of the therapeutic peptides on bone loss and/or local bone defects, including the results from basic studies. We also herein describe some possible methods for overcoming the obstacles associated with using therapeutic peptide candidates.

4. Growth factor delivery: How surface interactions modulate release in vitro and in vivo [4]


Biomaterial scaffolds have been extensively used to deliver growth factors to induce new bone formation. The pharmacokinetics of growth factor delivery has been a critical regulator of their clinical success. This review will focus on the surface interactions that control the non-covalent incorporation of growth factors into scaffolds and the mechanisms that control growth factor release from clinically relevant biomaterials. We will focus on the delivery of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 from materials currently used in the clinical practice, but also suggest how general mechanisms that control growth factor incorporation and release delineated with this growth factor could extend to other systems. A better understanding of the changing mechanisms that control growth factor release during the different stages of preclinical development could instruct the development of future scaffolds for currently untreatable injuries and diseases.

5. Biomaterial delivery of morphogens to mimic the natural healing cascade in bone[5]


Complications in treatment of large bone defects using bone grafting still remain. Our understanding of the endogenous bone regeneration cascade has inspired the exploration of a wide variety of growth factors (GFs) in an effort to mimic the natural signaling that controls bone healing. Biomaterial-based delivery of single exogenous GFs has shown therapeutic efficacy, and this likely relates to its ability to recruit and promote replication of cells involved in tissue development and the healing process. However, as the natural bone healing cascade involves the action of multiple factors, each acting in a specific spatiotemporal pattern, strategies aiming to mimic the critical aspects of this process will likely benefit from the usage of multiple therapeutic agents. This article reviews the current status of approaches to deliver single GFs, as well as ongoing efforts to develop sophisticated delivery platforms to deliver multiple lineage-directing morphogens (multiple GFs) during bone healing.

6. Studies of bone morphogenetic protein-based surgical repair[6]


Over the past several decades, recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMPs) have been the most extensively studied and widely used osteoinductive agents for clinical bone repair. Since rhBMP-2 and rhBMP-7 were cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for certain clinical uses, millions of patients worldwide have been treated with rhBMPs for various musculoskeletal disorders. Current clinical applications include treatment of long bone fracture non-unions, spinal surgeries, and oral maxillofacial surgeries. Considering the growing number of recent publications related to clincal research of rhBMPs, there exists enormous promise for these proteins to be used in bone regenerative medicine. The authors take this opportunity to review the rhBMP literature paying specific attention to the current applications of rhBMPs in bone repair and spine surgery. The prospective future of rhBMPs delivered in combination with tissue engineered scaffolds is also reviewed.

7. Strategies for controlled delivery of growth factors and cells for bone regeneration[7]


The controlled delivery of growth factors and cells within biomaterial carriers can enhance and accelerate functional bone formation. The carrier system can be designed with pre-programmed release kinetics to deliver bioactive molecules in a localized, spatiotemporal manner most similar to the natural wound healing process. The carrier can also act as an extracellular matrix-mimicking substrate for promoting osteoprogenitor cellular infiltration and proliferation for integrative tissue repair. This review discusses the role of various regenerative factors involved in bone healing and their appropriate combinations with different delivery systems for augmenting bone regeneration. The general requirements of protein, cell and gene therapy are described, with elaboration on how the selection of materials, configurations and processing affects growth factor and cell delivery and regenerative efficacy in both in vitro and in vivo applications for bone tissue engineering.

8. Bone repair cells for craniofacial regeneration[8]


Reconstruction of complex craniofacial deformities is a clinical challenge in situations of injury, congenital defects or disease. The use of cell-based therapies represents one of the most advanced methods for enhancing the regenerative response for craniofacial wound healing. Both somatic and stem cells have been adopted in the treatment of complex osseous defects and advances have been made in finding the most adequate scaffold for the delivery of cell therapies in human regenerative medicine. As an example of such approaches for clinical application for craniofacial regeneration, Ixmyelocel-T or bone repair cells are a source of bone marrow derived stem and progenitor cells. They are produced through the use of single pass perfusion bioreactors for CD90+ mesenchymal stem cells and CD14+ monocyte/macrophage progenitor cells. The application of ixmyelocel-T has shown potential in the regeneration of muscular, vascular, nervous and osseous tissue. The purpose of this manuscript is to highlight cell therapies used to repair bony and soft tissue defects in the oral and craniofacial complex. The field at this point remains at an early stage, however this review will provide insights into the progress being made using cell therapies for eventual development into clinical practice.

9. Gene therapy approaches to regenerating bone[9]


Bone formation and regeneration therapies continue to require optimization and improvement because many skeletal disorders remain undertreated. Clinical solutions to nonunion fractures and osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures, for example, remain suboptimal and better therapeutic approaches must be created. The widespread use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMPs) for spine fusion was recently questioned by a series of reports in a special issue of The Spine Journal, which elucidated the side effects and complications of direct rhBMP treatments. Gene therapy – both direct (in vivo) and cell-mediated (ex vivo) – has long been studied extensively to provide much needed improvements in bone regeneration. In this article, we review recent advances in gene therapy research whose aims are in vivo or ex vivo bone regeneration or formation. We examine appropriate vectors, safety issues, and rates of bone formation. The use of animal models and their relevance for translation of research results to the clinical setting are also discussed in order to provide the reader with a critical view. Finally, we elucidate the main challenges and hurdles faced by gene therapy aimed at bone regeneration as well as expected future trends in this field.

10. Gene delivery to bone[10]


Gene delivery to bone is useful both as an experimental tool and as a potential therapeutic strategy. Among its advantages over protein delivery are the potential for directed, sustained and regulated expression of authentically processed, nascent proteins. Although no clinical trials have been initiated, there is a substantial pre-clinical literature documenting the successful transfer of genes to bone, and their intraosseous expression. Recombinant vectors derived from adenovirus, retrovirus and lentivirus, as well as non-viral vectors, have been used for this purpose. Both ex vivo and in vivo strategies, including gene-activated matrices, have been explored. Ex vivo delivery has often employed mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), partly because of their ability to differentiate into osteoblasts. MSCs also have the potential to home to bone after systemic administration, which could serve as a useful way to deliver transgenes in a disseminated fashion for the treatment of diseases affecting the whole skeleton, such as osteoporosis orosteogenesis imperfecta. Local delivery of osteogenic transgenes, particularly those encoding bone morphogenetic proteins, has shown great promise in a number of applications where it is necessary to regenerate bone. These include healing large segmental defects in long bones and the cranium, as well as spinal fusion and treating avascular necrosis.

11. RNA therapeutics targeting osteoclast-mediated excessive bone resorption[11]


RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific post-transcriptional gene silencing technique developed with dramatically increasing utility for both scientific and therapeutic purposes. Short interfering RNA (siRNA) is currently exploited to regulate protein expression relevant to many therapeutic applications, and commonly used as a tool for elucidating disease-associated genes. Osteoporosis and their associated osteoporotic fragility fractures in both men and women are rapidly becoming a global healthcare crisis as average life expectancy increases worldwide. New therapeutics are needed for this increasing patient population. This review describes the diversity of molecular targets suitable for RNAi-based gene knock down in osteoclasts to control osteoclast-mediated excessive bone resorption. We identify strategies for developing targeted siRNA delivery and efficient gene silencing, and describe opportunities and challenges of introducing siRNA as a therapeutic approach to hard and connective tissue disorders.


[1] S. A. Low and J. Kopeček, “Targeting polymer therapeutics to bone,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1189–1204, Sep. 2012.

[2] F. Yuan, L. Quan, L. Cui, S. R. Goldring, and D. Wang, “Development of macromolecular prodrug for rheumatoid arthritis,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1205–1219, Sep. 2012.

[3] K. Aoki, N. Alles, N. Soysa, and K. Ohya, “Peptide-based delivery to bone,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1220–1238, Sep. 2012.

[4] W. J. King and P. H. Krebsbach, “Growth factor delivery: How surface interactions modulate release in vitro and in vivo,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1239–1256, Sep. 2012.

[5] M. Mehta, K. Schmidt-Bleek, G. N. Duda, and D. J. Mooney, “Biomaterial delivery of morphogens to mimic the natural healing cascade in bone,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1257–1276, Sep. 2012.

[6] K. W.-H. Lo, B. D. Ulery, K. M. Ashe, and C. T. Laurencin, “Studies of bone morphogenetic protein-based surgical repair,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1277–1291, Sep. 2012.

[7] T. N. Vo, F. K. Kasper, and A. G. Mikos, “Strategies for controlled delivery of growth factors and cells for bone regeneration,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1292–1309, Sep. 2012.

[8] G. Pagni, D. Kaigler, G. Rasperini, G. Avila-Ortiz, R. Bartel, and W. V. Giannobile, “Bone repair cells for craniofacial regeneration,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1310–1319, Sep. 2012.

[9] N. Kimelman Bleich, I. Kallai, J. R. Lieberman, E. M. Schwarz, G. Pelled, and D. Gazit, “Gene therapy approaches to regenerating bone,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1320–1330, Sep. 2012.

[10] C. H. Evans, “Gene delivery to bone,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1331–1340, Sep. 2012.

[11] Y. Wang and D. W. Grainger, “RNA therapeutics targeting osteoclast-mediated excessive bone resorption,” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1341–1357, Sep. 2012.

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Reporter Aviral Vatsa, PhD MBBS

Annual treatment costs for musculoskeletal diseases in the US are roughly 7.7% (~ $849 billion) of total gross domestic product. Such disorders are the main cause of physical disability in US. Almost half of all chronic conditions in people can be attributed to bone and joint disorders. In addition there is increasing ageing population and associated increases in osteoporosis and other diseases, rising incidences of degenerative intervertebral disk diseases and numbers of revision orthopedic arthroplasty surgeries, and increases in spinal fusions. All these factors contribute towards the increasing requirement of bone regeneration and reconstruction methods and products. Delivery of therapeutic grade products to bone has various challenges. Parenteral administration limits the efficient delivery of drugs to the required site of injury and local delivery methods are often expensive and invasive. The theme issue of Advance Drug Delivery reviews focuses on the current status of drug delivery to bone and the issues facing this field. Here is the first part of these reviews and research articles.

1. Demineralized bone matrix in bone repair: History and use


Demineralized bone matrix (DBM) is an osteoconductive and osteoinductive commercial biomaterial and approved medical device used in bone defects with a long track record of clinical use in diverse forms. True to its name and as an acid-extracted organic matrix from human bone sources, DBM retains much of the proteinaceous components native to bone, with small amounts of calcium-based solids, inorganic phosphates and some trace cell debris. Many of DBM’s proteinaceous components (e.g., growth factors) are known to be potent osteogenic agents. Commercially sourced as putty, paste, sheets and flexible pieces, DBM provides a degradable matrix facilitating endogenous release of these compounds to the bone wound sites where it is surgically placed to fill bone defects, inducing new bone formation and accelerating healing. Given DBM’s long clinical track record and commercial accessibility in standard forms and sources, opportunities to further develop and validate DBM as a versatile bone biomaterial in orthopedic repair and regenerative medicine contexts are attractive.

2. Biomimetic hydrogels for controlled biomolecule delivery to augment bone regeneration


The regeneration of large bone defects caused by trauma or disease remains a significant clinical problem. Although osteoinductive growth factors such as bone morphogenetic proteins have entered clinics, transplantation of autologous bone remains the gold standard to treat bone defects. The effective treatment of bone defects by protein therapeutics in humans requires quantities that exceed the physiological doses by several orders of magnitude. This not only results in very high treatment costs but also bears considerable risks for adverse side effects. These issues have motivated the development of biomaterials technologies allowing to better control biomolecule delivery from the solid phase. Here we review recent approaches to immobilize biomolecules by affinity binding or by covalent grafting to biomaterial matrices. We focus on biomaterials concepts that are inspired by extracellular matrix (ECM) biology and in particular the dynamic interaction of growth factors with the ECM. We highlight the value of synthetic, ECM-mimicking matrices for future technologies to study bone biology and develop the next generation of ‘smart’ implants.


3. Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials


Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

4. Silk constructs for delivery of musculoskeletal therapeutics


Silk fibroin (SF) is a biopolymer with distinguishing features from many other bio- as well as synthetic polymers. From a biomechanical and drug delivery perspective, SF combines remarkable versatility for scaffolding (solid implants, hydrogels, threads, solutions), with advanced mechanical properties and good stabilization and controlled delivery of entrapped protein and small molecule drugs, respectively. It is this combination of mechanical and pharmaceutical features which renders SF so exciting for biomedical applications. This pattern along with the versatility of this biopolymer has been translated into progress for musculoskeletal applications. We review the use and potential of silk fibroin for systemic and localized delivery of therapeutics in diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system. We also present future directions for this biopolymer as well as the necessary research and development steps for their achievement.

5. Demineralized bone matrix as a vehicle for delivering endogenous and exogenous therapeutics in bone repair


As a unique human bone extract approved for implant use, demineralized bone matrix (DBM) retains substantial amounts of endogenous osteoconductive and osteoinductive proteins. Commercial preparations of DBM represent a clinically accessible, familiar, widely used and degradable bone-filling device, available in composite solid, strip/piece, and semi-solid paste forms. Surgically placed and/or injected, DBM releases its constituent compounds to bone sites with some evidence for inducing new bone formation and accelerating healing. Significantly, DBM also has preclinical history as a drug carrier by direct loading and delivery of several important classes of therapeutics. Exogenous bioactive agents, including small molecule drugs, protein and peptide drugs, nucleic acid drugs and transgenes and therapeutic cells have been formulated within DBM and released to bone sites to enhance DBM’s intrinsic biological activity. Local release of these agents from DBM directly to surgical sites in bone provides improved control of dosing and targeting of both endogenous and exogenous bioactivity in the context of bone healing using a clinically familiar product. Given DBM’s long clinical track record and commercial accessibility in standard forms and sources, opportunities to formulate DBM as a versatile matrix to deliver therapeutic agents locally to bone sites in orthopedic repair and regenerative medicine contexts are attractive.

6. Nanofiber-based delivery of bioactive agents and stem cells to bone sites


Biodegradable nanofibers are important scaffolding materials for bone regeneration. In this paper, the basic concepts and recent advances of self-assembly, electrospinning and thermally induced phase separation techniques that are widely used to generate nanofibrous scaffolds are reviewed. In addition, surface functionalization and bioactive factor delivery within these nanofibrous scaffolds to enhance bone regeneration are also discussed. Moreover, recent progresses in applying these nanofiber-based scaffolds to deliver stem cells for bone regeneration are presented. Along with the significant advances, challenges and obstacles in the field as well as the future perspective are discussed.

7. Intra-operatively customized implant coating strategies for local and controlled drug delivery to bone


Bone is one of the few tissues in the human body with high endogenous healing capacity. However, failure of the healing process presents a significant clinical challenge; it is a tremendous burden for the individual and has related health and economic consequences. To overcome such healing deficits, various concepts for a local drug delivery to bone have been developed during the last decades. However, in many cases these concepts do not meet the specific requirements of either surgeons who must use these strategies or individual patients who might benefit from them. We describe currently available methods for local drug delivery and their limitations in therapy. Various solutions for drug delivery to bone focusing on clinical applications and intra-operative constraints are discussed and drug delivery by implant coating is highlighted. Finally, a new set of design and performance requirements for intra-operatively customized implant coatings for controlled drug delivery is proposed. In the future, these requirements may improve approaches for local and intra-operative treatment of patients.

8. Local delivery of small and large biomolecules in craniomaxillofacial bone


Current state of the art reconstruction of bony defects in the craniomaxillofacial (CMF) area involves transplantation of autogenous or allogenous bone grafts. However, the inherent drawbacks of this approach strongly urge clinicians and researchers to explore alternative treatment options. Currently, a wide interest exists in local delivery of biomolecules from synthetic biomaterials for CMF bone regeneration, in which small biomolecules are rapidly emerging in recent years as an interesting adjunct for upgrading the clinical treatment of CMF bone regeneration under compromised healing conditions. This review highlights recent advances in the local delivery small and large biomolecules for the clinical treatment of CMF bone defects. Further, it provides a perspective on the efficacy of biomolecule delivery in CMF bone regeneration by reviewing presently available reports of pre-clinical studies using various animal models.

9. Immobilized antibiotics to prevent orthopaedic implant infections


Many surgical procedures require the placement of an inert or tissue-derived implant deep within the body cavity. While the majority of these implants do not become colonized by bacteria, a small percentage develops a biofilm layer that harbors invasive microorganisms. In orthopaedic surgery, unresolved periprosthetic infections can lead to implant loosening, arthrodeses, amputations and sometimes death. The focus of this review is to describe development of an implant in which an antibiotic tethered to the metal surface is used to prevent bacterial colonization and biofilm formation. Building on well-established chemical syntheses, studies show that antibiotics can be linked to titanium through a self-assembled monolayer of siloxy amines. The stable metal–antibiotic construct resists bacterial colonization and biofilm formation while remaining amenable to osteoblastic cell adhesion and maturation. In an animal model, the antibiotic modified implant resists challenges by bacteria that are commonly present in periprosthetic infections. While the long-term efficacy and stability is still to be established, ongoing studies support the view that this novel type of bioactive surface has a real potential to mitigate or prevent the devastating consequences of orthopaedic infection.

10. Local delivery of nitric oxide: Targeted delivery of therapeutics to bone and connective tissues


Non-invasive treatment of injuries and disorders affecting bone and connective tissue remains a significant challenge facing the medical community. A treatment route that has recently been proposed is nitric oxide (NO) therapy. Nitric oxide plays several important roles in physiology with many conditions lacking adequate levels of NO. As NO is a radical, localized delivery via NO donors is essential to promoting biological activity. Herein, we review current literature related to therapeutic NO delivery in the treatment of bone, skin and tendon repair.


  1. Demineralized bone matrix in bone repair: History and use
  2. Biomimetic hydrogels for controlled biomolecule delivery to augment bone regeneration
  3. Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials
  4. Silk constructs for delivery of musculoskeletal therapeutics
  5. Demineralized bone matrix as a vehicle for delivering endogenous and exogenous therapeutics in bone repair
  6. Nanofiber-based delivery of bioactive agents and stem cells to bone sites
  7. Intra-operatively customized implant coating strategies for local and controlled drug delivery to bone
  8. Immobilized antibiotics to prevent orthopaedic implant infections
  9. Local delivery of nitric oxide: Targeted delivery of therapeutics to bone and connective tissues

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Reported by: Dr. Venkat S. Karra, Ph.D.

Most vaccines, enzymes, and antibodies and many antibiotics and other drugs require constant refrigeration from manufacture to delivery to maintain their effectiveness. A serious obstacle to the effective use of life-saving pharmaceuticals is keeping them cold. International health experts estimate that nearly half of all global vaccines are lost due to breakdowns in the “cold chain.”

Tufts biomedical engineers team led by David L. Kaplan, PhD, has discovered a way to maintain the potency of vaccines and other drugs—that otherwise require refrigeration—for months and possibly years at temperatures above 110 F, by stabilizing them in a silk protein made from silkworm cocoons. They found that silk stabilization preserved the efficacy of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, as well as penicillin and tetracycline, at a wide range of temperatures (at least up to 60 C or 140 F) significantly better than other options such as collagen encapsulants, dried powders, and solutions.

“Silk protein has a unique structure and chemistry that makes it strong, resistant to moisture, stable at extreme temperatures, and biocompatible, all of which make it very useful for stabilizing antibiotics, vaccines, and other drugs. Importantly, the pharmaceutical-infused silk can be made in a variety of forms such as microneedles, microvesicles, and films that allow the non-refrigerated drugs to be stored and administered in a single device.

Measles is one of the leading killers of children worldwide. Without refrigeration, the MMR vaccine rapidly loses potency. But after six months of storage in freeze-dried silk films at body temperature (37 C) and at 113 F (45 C), all components of the vaccine retained approximately 85% of their initial potency. Silk-stabilized antibiotics also retained high activity.

Storage in silk films at body temperature resulted in no activity loss for tetracycline, compared with an 80% loss within four weeks of storage in solution. Even for films stored at 140 F (60 C), tetracycline activity loss was only 10 percent after two weeks, compared with 100% loss after two weeks of storage in solution.

No activity loss was observed for penicillin stored in silk films at 60 C for 30 days; in contrast, total activity loss was observed within 24 hours when penicillin was stored in solution at the same temperature. Silk stabilization also protected the tetracycline against degradation by light, a benefit that the researchers did not anticipate, according to co-author and research assistant professor Bruce Panilaitis. So far, Panilaitis adds, the researchers haven’t found any pharmaceutical that they have been unable to stabilize. This could be a “universal storage and handling system.”

The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


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