Nano bubble gum for enhancing drug delivery in gut

Nov 09, 2009

Of the many characteristic traits a drug can have, one of the most desirable is the ability for a drug to be swallowed and absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut. Some drugs, like over-the-counter aspirin, lend themselves to this mode of delivery and are trivial to take. They can be pressed into a pill and swallowed. Other drugs cannot be swallowed and must be administered instead through more complicated routes. Insulin, for instance, must be injected.

The reason why insulin and many other drugs cannot be swallowed is that they cannot survive the trip through the -- wherein they are first plunged into the acid bath of the stomach and then passed into the intestines, which are filled with enzymes designed to break down molecules like insulin. Aspirin does fine in the because its active ingredient is a small chemical that doesn't get broken down. But insulin is quickly degraded.

Tejal A. Desai (University of California, San Francisco) is looking at ways to enhance the "oral availability" of drugs by designing new delivery devices that will help their absorption in the gut, which she will present on November 12 at a meeting of the scientific society AVS in San Jose. Working with a Bay-area biotechnology company, she is making devices that are sort of like spiny beads filled with drugs. The spines on these beads are silicon nanowires designed to form an adhesive interface with the tiny, hair-like cilia that cover the cells lining the gut. They are designed to stick like burrs to the cells lining the gut and slowly release their drugs there. Localized in one spot, the drugs have a better chance of diffusing into the .

Desai is currently fine-tuning the geometry of the nanowires in order to optimize their adhesion. Her laboratory has done a number of toxicity studies with the beads, and their plan next is to look at how effectively they can deliver proteins, , and other macromolecules that are not usually taken orally.

One of the advantages of this approach, Desai says, is that it may be applicable for delivering drugs to other part of the body as well, such as mucosal tissues like the insides of the nose, lungs, or vagina, where the surface cells are also coated with such cilia.

Source: American Institute of Physics

Explore further: Can tapioca replace corn as the main source for starch sweeteners?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tiny capsules deliver drugs

Jan 12, 2009

A tiny particle syringe composed of polymer layers and nanoparticles may provide drug delivery that targets diseased cells without harming the rest of the body, according to a team of chemical engineers. This ...

Recommended for you

Project launched to study evolutionary history of fungi

10 hours ago

The University of California, Riverside is one of 11 collaborating institutions that have been funded a total of $2.5 million by the National Science Foundation for a project focused on studying zygomycetes – ancient li ...

Different watering regimes boost crop yields

14 hours ago

Watering tomato plants less frequently could improve yields in saline conditions, according to a study of the impact of water and soil salinity on vegetable crops.

Woolly mammoth genome sequencer at UWA

15 hours ago

How can a giant woolly mammoth which lived at least 200,000 years ago help to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction? The answer lies in DNA, the carrier of genetic information.

User comments : 0