In order to free children from “difficulty in taking medicine”, MIT has developed a special pill

For many people, taking medicine is not an easy task. Medicines that are stuck in the throat and cannot go down or come up often add pain to the already unpleasant body, and it is even more difficult for the physiological structure to swallow medicines. even more so for children. But oral drugs have become an indispensable mode of drug delivery and now account for about 90% of drugs produced for human use.

▲ Picture from: Find a Pharmacy

From this point of view, it is impossible not to take medicine, so we can only find a way to make taking medicine easier. A team of scientists from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital has developed an oil-based gel for drug delivery (relevant research results have been published in the journal Science Advances).

While working on other types of ingestible drug delivery systems about 10 years ago, the research team started thinking about new ways to make it easier for children to take medicines that are usually given in pill form.

▲ Picture from: MIT News

Considering the usage scenarios and stability of the drug, the research team decided to focus on oil-based gels. This type of gel consists of a gelling agent, a solubilizer and an oil, which can be used in the food industry to change the texture of oily foods and to increase the melting point of chocolate and ice cream.

After exploring several vegetable oils, including sesame oil, cottonseed oil, and linseed oil, the researchers combined these oils with edible gelling agents such as beeswax and rice bran wax, and found that they could vary according to the concentration of the oil and the gelling agent. and types present different textures. The texture can be like a thick drink like a protein shake, or it can be like yogurt or pudding.

▲ Picture from: "Science Advances"

In addition to being able to make different textures, the research team worked with a team of professionally trained sommeliers at Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm specializing in consumer sensory experience, to study the taste of the gel and found the most appealing after many trials. The gels include those made from oils that have a neutral flavor (like cottonseed oil) or a slightly nutty flavor (like sesame oil).

The researchers then chose to use three water-insoluble medicines on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines for children: praziquantel for parasitic infections, phenylfluorenol for malaria, and azithromycin for bacterial infections. Test the effectiveness of the gel to deliver the drug.

▲ Picture from: "Science Advances"

In animal experiments, the researchers found that for each of these basic drugs, the oil-based gel provided doses equal to or higher than the amount absorbed from the tablet. There is also an antibiotic called moxifloxacin hydrochloride, which, although a water-soluble drug, can also be successfully delivered through an oil-based gel.

For better storage and delivery of drugs, the researchers designed them to remain stable for weeks at 40 degrees Celsius. In this way, it can also be used in areas with refrigeration equipment. The researchers also designed a dispenser similar to a squeezable yogurt pack, with dividers that can be used to dispense doses, making it easier to deliver the correct dose to children of different weights.

▲ Picture from: "Science Advances"

Of course, there are still some issues that need to be understood in this study, such as whether the solubility of the drug in the formulation ensures that the drug does not precipitate in physiological fluids, or whether the solubility of the drug in the formulation is the only determinant of drug absorption, etc. Gels may also need to be optimized for different drugs.

But from what we have seen today, this oil-based gel is made of safe ingredients, remains stable at high temperatures for a long time, and can deliver drugs at levels comparable or better than commercial tablets.  …

▲ Picture from: MIT News

Not only the original attempt to develop a pharmaceutical formulation that could easily be used in children has been achieved. It also overcomes constraints such as administering medicines to children in resource-constrained settings, children may not be able to swallow solid dosage forms, medicines may be exposed to extreme weather conditions, and budgets for pediatric medicines may not be sufficient.

The research team has obtained FDA approval for a phase I clinical trial of an oil-based gel formulation of azithromycin, and plans to start clinical trials in the next few months. Maybe it won't be long before taking medicine is no longer a problem.

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