Newswise – In a study published in Advanced materials, Researcher Pietro Veglianese, Valeria Veneruso and Emilia Petillo from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS in collaboration with Filippo Rossi of Politecnico di Milano have shown that an innovative nanovector (nanogel) they developed is capable of delivering anti-inflammatory drugs specifically to glial cells that are actively involved in the development of spinal cord injury, a condition that leads to paraplegia or quadriplegia.

Currently available treatments to modulate the inflammatory response mediated by the component that controls the internal environment of the brain after acute spinal cord injury have shown limited effectiveness. This is also due to the lack of a therapeutic approach that can selectively act on microglial and astrocyte cells.

The nanovectors developed by the Politecnico di Milano, so-called nanogels, consist of polymers that can bind to specific target molecules. In this case, the nanogels were designed to bind to glial cells, which are crucial in the inflammatory response following acute spinal cord injury. The collaboration between the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS and the Politecnico di Milano showed that nanogels loaded with a drug with anti-inflammatory effects (rolipram) were able to convert glial cells from a damaging to a protective state, thus actively contributing to the recovery of injured Tissue. Nanogels were shown to have a selective effect on glial cells by specifically releasing the active ingredient, maximizing its effect and reducing possible side effects.

“The key to the research was to understand the functional groups that nanogels can selectively target within specific cell populations,” explained Filippo RossiProfessor at the Faculty of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta” at the Politecnico di Milano – This enables drug treatments to be optimized by reducing undesirable effects.”

“The results of the study“, continues Pietro Veglianese, Head of the Department of Acute Spinal Trauma and Regeneration, Department of Neuroscience at the Istituto Mario Negri, “show that nanogels reduced inflammation and improved recovery ability in animal models of spinal cord injury, thereby partially restoring motor function. These results open the way to new therapeutic options for myelolysis patients. “In addition, this approach could also be useful for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, in which inflammation and glial cells play an important role.”

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