A group of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women's Hospital has developed a capsule that could stay in the stomach and release the drug slowly for up to couple of weeks.

The ultra long-acting oral drug delivery system would be a convenient alternative to drug regimens that demand repeated doses and also in treating diseases like malaria. The researchers tested the novel approach in delivering ivermectin, a drug believed to eliminate malarial infection.

Ultra Long-Acting Oral Drug vs. Regular Drug

Robert Langer, a professor at MIT, noted that no pill lasts in the human system for more than a day. Therefore, the novel sustained-release capsule would be of great help in treating a number of debilitating health problems like Alzheimer's and other mental disorders. Langer noted that the ultra long-acting oral drug delivery system would pave way for new and advanced treatment options.

Lyndra, a Cambridge-based company that focuses on the sustained drug delivery approach, aims to come up with treatment options for various health issues such as diabetes, HIV, epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Study On Ultra Long-Acting Oral Drug Delivery Platform

Generally, when a drug is consumed orally it is exposed to the harsh environment in the stomach and passes rapidly through the system. That being the case, Langer and team focused on developing a drug that would last in the body for a long time after consumption. The researchers worked rigorously on malarial drug ivermectin that would kill mosquitoes biting a person already on the drug.

The researchers eventually developed a capsule that is designed to survive the stomach environment much longer than regular pills. A star-shaped drug delivery system with its six arms folded and encased in a capsule unfolds itself after entering the stomach. The drug is packed in the arms made of rigid polymer named polycaprolactone.

The outer capsule layer dissolves as soon as it enters the stomach and the unfolded star-shaped structure resists the stomach's push and remains there for weeks. The system delivers the drug for intended periods of time and eventually dissolves to be flushed out of the body.

Uses Of Long-Acting Oral Drugs

"This is a platform into which you can incorporate any drug," said Mousa Jafari, MIT postdoc and one of the lead authors of the study, in a press release. "This can be used with any drug that requires frequent dosing. We can replace that dosing with a single administration."

Jafari also noted that the ultra long-acting oral drug delivery system is useful not only for treatment purposes but also in clinical trials since it helps researchers overcome the medication adherence problems in patients.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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