Dual-sided pill stays put to release medication
A novel pill, developed byresearchers at MIT, shows promise in allowing for effective long-term delivery of drugs, with the ability to stick to the gastrointestinal tract for lengthy periods time. The pill makes use of a two-face build, with one side designed to hold it in place, while the otherrepels liquid and food that could otherwise dislodge it.
The project is being led by MIT's RobertLanger, who's worked on similar projects in the past. Back in July2015, his team produced a similarly-focused material, designed toallow for single-use, ultra long-term drug delivery.
The new research is a step closer toclinical use, providing a solution that – conceptually at least –would allow for practical long-term medication delivery. Designed toreside in the gastrointestinal tract, the device makes use of amaterial called a mucoadhesive.
As the name suggests, the material iscapable of sticking to the mucosal lining of organs. Its use hasbeen trialled before, but has been found to be problematic, as foodand liquids can easily become stuck to it, shifting it out of placebefore drugs can be delivered.
The researchers used a mucoadhesivepolymer called Carbopol for one side of the pill, but for the other –the section tasked with repelling food and liquid – they used acellulose acetate. That side was textured to mimic a lotus leaf, which has tiny protrusions that make it extremely hydrophobic.Once the texturing was complete, the surface was flourinated andlubricated to make it repel practically anything it comes intocontact with.
The dual-sided pill was then loadedwith drugs and tested using intestinal tissue from pigs, alongsidefully mucoadhesive and fully omniphobic pills. To simulate theenvironment in which the pills are designed to function, theresearchers flowed a mix of liquids and small piece of rice and breadalong the tissue.
In testing, the omniphobic variantmoved along the tissue in just a single second, while the mucoadhesive pill stayed in place for seven seconds before it waspulled out of place. The two-sided pill performed much better,staying in place for the entire length of the experiment – a full10 minutes.
With those positive results in the bag,the researchers plan to fine-tune the dual-sided pill, tweaking theamount of time it stays in place, as well as the rate of drugrelease. They also plan to tune the pill so that it attaches tospecific sections of the GI tract.
Full details on the new study arepublished in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.