Local and sustained delivery of hydrophobic drugs to the spinal cord with polyketal microparticles
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating disease. Currently, there is no cure for this disease, and effective treatment strategies are greatly needed. Calpain activation plays a major role in the motor neuron degeneration that causes ALS. Therefore, therapeutic strategies can inhibit calpain activity in the central nervous system (CNS) have great clinical potential. The calpain inhibitors AK295 and MDL-28170 have been demonstrated to be neuroprotective in animal models of neurological injury, and should have great potential to treat ALS; however delivery problems have hindered their clinical success. Therefore, development of a new strategy that can locally deliver the calpain inhibitors to the central nervous system could significantly improve the treatment of ALS. The objectives of my thesis research were (1) to develop high molecular weight polyketals that provide sustained release properties for hydrophobic molecules, (2) to formulate calpain inhibitor-encapsulated polyketal microparticles which have a release half life of one month in vitro, (3) and to evaluate the performance of polyketal microparticles for delivering calpain inhibitors to the spinal cord in vivo. In completing these specific aims, we have developed biodegradable polymeric microparticles for the delivery of calpain inhibitors, AK295 and MDL-28170 to treat ALS. The results of calpain assays showed that both AK-PKMs and MDL-PKMs maintained most of their inhibitory activities even after the robust emulsion process. The in vitro release profile of MDL-28170 in MDL-PKMs showed that 50 % of the drug was released in the first 30 days. Experiments using dye-encapsulated microparticles showed that polyketal microparticles (1-2 ìm) are not easily cleared in the neutral physiological environment and can have potential to continuously release drug from the injection sites in the spinal cord. The efficacy of calpain inhibitor-encapsulated PKMs were studied by evaluation the behavior and survival of SOD1G93A rats, a genetic rat model for ALS. We observed the trend toward improvements in grip strength and rotarod performance in the first two months from the AK-PKMs treated group, however, further improvements are needed to enhance their in vivo efficacy.