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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Feb 2024 - 1 Mar 2024

2024 Feb 27

Mol Pharm


Thermoresponsive Polymeric Hydromorphone Prodrug Provides Sustained Local Analgesia without Apparent Adverse Effects.


Jia Z, Wei X, Chen N, Xu X, Zhao G, Fu X, Wang H, Goldring MB, Goldring SR, Wang D


The extensive use of opioids for chronic pain management has contributed significantly to the current opioid epidemic. While many alternative nonopioid analgesics are available, opioids remain the most potent analgesics for moderate to severe pain management. In addition to the implementation of multimodal analgesia, there is a pressing need for the development of more effective and safer opioids. In this study, we developed a thermoresponsive -(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer-based hydromorphone (HMP) prodrug (ProGel-HMP, HMP content = 16.2 wt %, in base form). The aqueous solution of ProGel-HMP was free-flowing at 4 °C but became a hydrogel when the temperature was raised to ≥37 °C, allowing sustained local retention when administered . When tested in the destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) mouse model of osteoarthritis (OA), ProGel-HMP was retained after intra-articular injection in the OA knee joint for at least 2 weeks postinjection, with low extra-articular distribution. ProGel-HMP was not detected in the central nervous system (CNS). A single dose of ProGel-HMP produced rapid and sustained joint pain resolution for greater than 14 days when compared to saline and dose-equivalent HMP controls, likely mediated through peripheral μ-opioid receptors in the knee joint. Systemic analgesia effect was absent in the DMM mice treated with ProGel-HMP, as evident in the lack of difference in tail flick response between the ProGel-HMP-treated mice and the controls (., Healthy, Saline, and Sham). Repeated dosing of ProGel-HMP did not induce tolerance. Collectively, these data support the further development of ProGel-HMP as a potent, safe, long-acting and nonaddictive analgesic for better clinical pain management.