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Polymer particles for the intra-articular delivery of drugs to treat osteoarthritis
Biomedical Materials (Bristol)
  • Xueli Mei, The University of Western Ontario
  • Ian J. Villamagna, The University of Western Ontario
  • Tony Nguyen, The University of Western Ontario
  • Frank Beier, The University of Western Ontario
  • C. Thomas Appleton, The University of Western Ontario
  • Elizabeth R. Gillies, The University of Western Ontario
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a leading cause of chronic disability. It is a progressive disease, involving pathological changes to the entire joint, resulting in joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of mobility. There is currently no disease-modifying pharmaceutical treatment for OA, and the treatments that do exist suffer from significant side effects. An increasing understanding of the molecular pathways involved in OA is leading to many potential drug targets. However, both current and new therapies can benefit from a targeted approach that delivers drugs selectively to joints at therapeutic concentrations, while limiting systemic exposure to the drugs. Delivery systems including hydrogels, liposomes, and various types of particles have been explored for intra-articular drug delivery. This review will describe progress over the past several years in the development of polymer-based particles for OA treatment, as well as their in vitro, in vivo, and clinical evaluation. Systems based on biopolymers such as polysaccharides and polypeptides, as well as synthetic polyesters, poly(ester amide)s, thermoresponsive polymers, poly(vinyl alcohol), amphiphilic polymers, and dendrimers will be described. We will discuss the role of particle size, biodegradability, and mechanical properties in the behavior of the particles in the joint, and the challenges to be addressed in future research.


This is the Accepted Manuscript version of an article accepted for publication in Biomedical Materials IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at

Citation Information
Xueli Mei, Ian J. Villamagna, Tony Nguyen, Frank Beier, et al.. "Polymer particles for the intra-articular delivery of drugs to treat osteoarthritis" Biomedical Materials (Bristol) Vol. 16 Iss. 4 (2021)
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