Gold nanoparticles can help treat rheumatism; the Faculty of Pharmacy received an award

Bratislava, 3 November 2022: Scientists from Comenius University Bratislava discovered that gold significantly affects the growth of cartilage cells and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Recently, Faculty of Pharmacy researchers received the Award for Technology Transfer in Slovakia for this discovery. The award coincides with the 70th anniversary of the faculty.

07. 11. 2022 13.39 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

Degenerative diseases of bones, joints and cartilage affect many people, often in their productive age. Fractures of the arms, hips or the spine caused by osteoporosis are associated with high mortality, especially among the elderly. Arthritis, or inflammatory joint disease, is at the moment an incurable disease. Treatment is therefore limited to alleviating the symptoms of the disease, or suppressing inflammation.

Gold therapy has been known since the 1920s, but it is no longer in use due to frequently occurring toxic side effects. A team of pharmacy researchers led by Ferdinand Devínsky now showed that gold in the form of nanoparticles has a significant effect on the growth of cartilage cells and can control inflammation. This is an exceptional combination of two effects that are essential in the treatment of these diseases. Modern nano-systems have low toxicity and are very stable, which is crucial to their practical use.

"In 2017, when our team completed a project focusing on small molecules in biomedical research, it was clear that research should continue to focus on new small molecules and bioactive nanoparticles, in the therapy of inflammatory and degenerative diseases of bones and joints," says Ferdinand Devínsky from the Faculty of Pharmacy, and the former rector of Comenius University.

Martin Pisárčik performed the key experiments. "Gold nanoparticles are an attractive and rapidly developing field and this inspired me to seek pharmaceutical applications for them based on their exceptional physical properties and biological activity," he explained.

Research of nanoparticle systems opens up new possibilities for a large group of patients who suffer from diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Nanoscale materials can be used for diagnostics, or for an organised delivery of therapeutic substances to specific locations. At the same time, unwanted effects of the treatment are taken into account.

The Award for Technology Transfer in Slovakia, in the category of innovation was given to the researchers at the COINTT 2022 (COOPERATION INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER) conference. The research was carried out in cooperation with the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University and the Research Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Brno, with the support of grants APVV-0516-12 and APVV-17-0373.

The Faculty of Pharmacy was founded at Comenius University in 1952. Ever since its inception it employed cutting edge scientific knowledge in its teaching. It was founded by Professor Ľudovít Krasnec and Professor František Švec. The 1960’s represent an important milestone for the Faculty because in that period, it became he only faculty of pharmacy in the former Czechoslovakia. Today, more than 1,000 Slovak and international students study at the faculty, and pharmacy is among the 5 most popular study programs at Comenius University Bratislava.

A ceremony was held on 18 October in CU’s Auditorium to commemorate the anniversary and to present various awards to notable personalities of science. During this semester the faculty is holding multiple activities to honour its anniversary. On 23 November the university will award, at the request of the Faculty of Pharmacy, an honorary doctorate to the prominent German pharmacologist Joachim Neumann.