Silk-elastinlike protein polymers enhance the efficacy of a therapeutic glycosaminoglycan for prophylactic treatment of radiation-induced proctitis
Radiation-induced proctitis (RIP) is the most common clinical adverse effect for patients receiving radiotherapy as part of the standard course of treatment for ovarian, prostate, colon, and bladder cancers. RIP limits radiation dosage, interrupts treatment, and lowers patients' quality of life. A prophylactic treatment that protects the gastrointestinal tract from deleterious effects of radiotherapy will significantly improve patient quality of life and may allow for higher and more regular doses of radiation therapy. Semi-synthetic glycosaminoglycan (GAG), generated from the sulfation of hyaluronic acid, are anti-inflammatory but have difficulty achieving therapeutic levels in many tissues. To enhance the delivery of GAG, we created an in situ gelling rectal delivery system using silk-elastinlike protein polymers (SELPs). Using solutions of SELP 815K (which contains 6 repeats of blocks comprised of 8 silk-like units, 15 elastin-like units, and 1 lysine-substituted elastin-like unit) with GAG GM-0111, we created an injectable delivery platform that transitioned in < 5 min from a liquid at room temperature to a hydrogel at body temperature. The hydrogels released 50% of their payload within 30 min and enhanced the accumulation of GAG in the rectum compared to traditional enema-based delivery. Using a murine model of radiation-induced proctitis, the prophylactic delivery of a single dose of GAG from a SELP matrix administered prior to irradiation significantly reduced radiation-induced pain after 3, 7, and 21 days by 53 ± 4%, 47 ± 10%, and 12 ± 6%, respectively. Matrix-mediated delivery of GAG by SELP represents an innovative method for more effective treatment of RIP and promises to improve quality of life of cancer patients by allowing higher radiotherapy doses with improved safety.