PODS (POlyhedrin Delivery System), a new technology designed to transport any protein in the human body, may open up new approaches in treating multiple sclerosis (MS) and other diseases, says its British developer, Cell Guidance Systems.
Created by Hajime Mori, a professor at Japan’s Kyoto Institute of Technology, PODS is based on a survival mechanism used by viruses.
Taking advantage of cubic microstructures formed by a protein called polyhedrin, PODS can stably transport and protect proteins across a range of extreme physical conditions. In the presence of proteases – enzymes that break down proteins – polyhedrin microcrystals are destroyed and slowly release their cargo. This allows PODS to transport unstable proteins such as growth factors, while ensuring a targeted constant release over weeks and months with only a single application.
“As with drugs, delivery mechanism for growth factors makes all the difference,” Christian Pernstich, research director at Cell Guidance Systems, said in a press release. “Standard growth factors are inflexible, sometimes unreliable and lack durability. POD technology overcomes these limitations in a very elegant way.”
The delivery of growth factors helps tissue recover in MS and many other medical conditions. Current MS treatment strategies focus mainly on relieving symptoms of the disease, and not so much on repairing the targeted destruction of central nervous system myelin that actually causes MS. The answer may lie in a new therapy that enables the efficient delivery of growth factors that which could regenerate myelin in MS patients.
Cell Guidance Systems is now conducting preclinical studies on PODS use for Parkinson’s disease, bone regeneration and other conditions.
“As well as research applications, we are actively exploring the medical potential of this technology for vaccine production and for delivery of therapeutic proteins,” said Pernstich. “We are aiming to regenerate tissues that have been damaged by diseases such as multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. It is a very promising and exciting technology.”