Slow release pill could be game changer
A new pill that can release medication over a two week period has been described as a potential ‘game changer’ by US researchers.
Such long-term oral drug delivery methods could end repeat doses that are often missed or found to be too inconvenient, claims the team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who developed the pill.
From malaria to elderly patients
The team tested the new delivery system with an anti-malarial drug.
It’s thought this slow-release technique could help eradicate similar diseases completely.
The pills could also be useful for elderly patients, those with memory problems and those with mental conditions who often fail to follow prescription instructions or forget to take them on a daily basis.
The pill uses a unique star-shaped structure with six arms. These arms are folded inwards and encased in a smooth capsule.
Each arm is loaded with molecules of the drug. Once it’s swallowed, stomach acid dissolves the outer layer allowing the arms to unfold and release their payload.
Once the star is fully expanded, it then becomes too large for the stomach to push further down the digestive tract so remains in place. But it’s not so large that it could cause a blockage.
Eventually, the arms break off and the pieces are expelled naturally.
Even longer lasting versions
It’s hoped that future versions could provide even longer lasting drug delivery spanning a month or more.
Co-author Dr Giovanni Traverso says that when patients need to take a drug every day, there is a drop off with adherence to the treatment regime.
The research is reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.