This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


peer-reviewed publication


Using starch as a novel drug transporter

Pharmacy: Using starch as a novel drug transporter?
A starch implant photographed in microscopic image Credit: Uni Halle / Esfahani Golbarg

A special type of starch could soon be used as an excipient in medicine to improve the treatment of patients. A research team from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has discovered that it makes a suitable drug release system and has advantages over already established excipients. The team reports on its research in the Journal of Controlled Release.

Many are difficult to administer at present as they are poorly absorbed by the body and break down too quickly.

These problems can be overcome by , which release active substances in the body in a controlled manner over a prolonged period of time. An example of one such application are drug-delivery implants. Once injected, the body degrades them over a longer period of time and the desired substance is released. This technology is already being used to treat diseases like cancer and bacterial infections.

Most currently used drug delivery systems are based on polylactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) and polylactide (PLA). However, these materials have several disadvantages.

"When PLGA and PLA degrade in the body, they create an acidic environment which results in an irregular release of the substances. Optimal treatment would, of course, involve a controlled release. The can cause local inflammation and also inactivate drugs prior to their release," explains Professor Karsten Mäder from the Institute of Pharmacy at MLU. His team has been working for many years on improving existing drug systems and developing new alternatives.

In the current study, the researchers investigated starch as a possible excipient. "Starch could provide an alternative for PLGA and PLA because it is already widely used as an excipient in and ," Mäder adds.

The researchers used a special pharmaceutical-grade starch in their experiments. Rod-shaped implants were created using a special extrusion process. Earlier studies by the team had already confirmed that starch is a suitable carrier substance for the controlled release of drugs. For the current study, the researchers tested the rods in mice. They were able to show that the new system works particularly well for poorly water-soluble drugs, as it releases them continuously over several weeks. There were also no side effects and the starch implant degraded completely.

"Our study shows that special starches could be used in drug delivery systems," concludes Mäder. However, before this invention could be applied to humans, large-scale on its efficacy and safety would need to be conducted.

More information: Golbarg Esfahani et al, A starch-based implant as a controlled drug release system: Non-invasive in vivo characterization using multispectral fluorescence imaging, Journal of Controlled Release (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2023.05.006

Journal information: Journal of Controlled Release

Provided by Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Citation: Using starch as a novel drug transporter (2023, August 22) retrieved 20 April 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

3D printing of starch for personalized medicine development


Feedback to editors