Brigham and Women’s develops gel to improve limb transplants

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a New England Council Member, have helped to develop a gel that could potentially improve the lives of recipients of limb or face transplants. Doctors hope that an injection of the gel twice a year could someday replace taking a daily pill for transplant patients.

Not only does the gel seem to be promising for convenience, but it is a safer option for patients. The drugs that are required for patients who have received transplants suppress the immune system to prevent the body from rejecting the transplant. These immunosupressants, however, have been known to become toxic over time. The newly developed gel is made from safer and cheaper products, and also allows for a slow and controlled delivery of the medication. Testing has proved very successful so far, and researchers hope that it will be available for testing on human patients within 3-5 years. Dr. Jeff Karp, a researcher in the division of Biomedical Engineering and Brigham and Women’s, has been worked for three years to develop an automatic drug-releasing gel like this, and hopes similar ones could be used in diseases ranging from arthritis to brain tumors.

The gel was described as “a very exciting and creative way of drug delivery that has the potential to simplify the way our patients are required to take medications,” by Bohdan Pomahac, the plastic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s who performed the first full face transplant in U.S. He added, “It is also going to maintain stable levels of the drug in the blood, an issue that we struggle with… I suspect that many other conditions would benefit from a similar approach of controlled drug delivery.”

The New England Council commends Brigham and Women’s for its continued dedication to cutting edge research and improving lives, and looks forward to the future successes of the research team and hospital as a whole.

Read more in the Boston Business Journal here

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