Thanks to medical advancements, a number of treatments have been made available to address a whole slew of conditions. For a treatment to be effective, however, prescription medication must be taken as advised, which means taking them exactly as instructed by the doctor. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and MIT understand the importance of proper drug dosage and the challenges of sticking to dosages. They have come up with a new design for a pill that will greatly help in reducing dosage frequency, making it easier for patients to follow their dosing schedule.
Giovanni Traverso and colleagues detailed the new pill design in a study published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. According to them, any kind of drug could be adapted to the new pill design, especially those requiring frequent dosage.
Robert Langer, one of the senior authors for the study, has been developing materials similar to the new pill in his lab for the past several decades. For the current study, he and his colleagues used a material called a mucoadhesive, which sticks to mucosal linings in organs, such as the stomach.
The use of mucoadhesives, however, is faced with the challenge of ensuring the adhesives stay stuck. In the gastrointestinal tract, for instance, liquid and food in the stomach can stick to the tablet, pulling it away before all of the drugs it contains have been administered.
To address this problem, the researchers designed the pill to have two sides. While one side sticks to the stomach's mucosal lining, the other repels everything that it encounters because it is omniphobic.
For the mucoadhesive side, a commercial polymer called Carbopol was used, while the omniphobic side featured cellulose acetate lubricated and fluorinated to ensure it repels almost any material it will come across. Drugs to be used can either be placed between the two layers or embedded in the layer of cellulose acetate.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, the work on the new pill design not only affords patients convenience and ensures effectiveness of a treatment but also helps guarantee safety as well, since both taking less and more than what's prescribed of a medication can be harmful to health.