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This article is part of the supplement: 3rd World Congress of the Global Arthritis Research Network (GARN): International Arthritis Summit

Open Badges Oral presentation

Albumin-based drug delivery as novel therapeutic approach for rheumatoid arthritis

A Wunder1, U Muller-Ladner2, E Stelzer3, E Neumann2, H Sinn1, S Gay4 and C Fiehn5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiochemistry and Radiopharmacology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany

2 Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

3 Cell Biophysics/Cell Biology Program, European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

4 WHO Collaborating Center for Molecular Bioliology and Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Rheumatic Disorders, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

5 Clinic of Internal Medicine V, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

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Arthritis Res Ther 2003, 5(Suppl 3):9  doi:10.1186/ar810

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:12 September 2003


Oral presentation

We reported recently that albumin is a suitable drug carrier for targeted delivery of methotrexate (MTX) to tumors. Due to pathophysiological conditions in neoplastic tissue, high amounts of albumin accumulate in tumors and are metabolized by malignant cells. MTX, covalently coupled to human serum albumin (MTX-HSA) for cancer treatment, is currently being evaluated in phase II clinical trials. Because the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) shares various features observed also in tumors, albumin-based drug targeting of inflamed joints might be an attractive therapeutic approach. Therefore, the pharmacokinetics of albumin and MTX in a mouse model of arthritis was examined. Additionally, uptake of albumin by synovial fibroblasts of RA patients and the efficacy of MTX and MTX-HSA in arthritic mice were studied. The results show that, when compared with MTX, significantly higher amounts of albumin accumulate in inflamed paws, and significantly lower amounts of albumin are found in the liver and the kidneys. The protein is metabolized by human synovial fibroblasts in vitro and in vivo. MTX-HSA was significantly more effective in suppression of the onset of arthritis in mice than was MTX. In conclusion, albumin appears to be a suitable drug carrier in RA, most probably due to effects on synovial fibroblasts, which might increase the therapeutic efficacy of and reduce side effects of MTX.