Medical science has undergone massive development over the last few decades. The tag of “incurable” has been removed from many hazardous diseases. The treatment techniques have improved manifold and many new drugs are now available which have increased the lifespan of humans in general. One of the recent remarkable inventions in the field of medical science is the capsule for long-term drug delivery.
This miraculous invention by the researchers at MIT is a capsule that stays in stomach for about two weeks and continues to release its contents during its stay inside the body. This has been tested to aid malaria. Though the invention is still in cradle at present, the researchers and inventors have firm belief that it drugs can be designed to cure many other diseases like diabetes, epilepsy, HIV and neuropsychiatric disorders.
The November, 2016 issue of “Science Translational Medicine”, the researchers of MIT described a drug called ivermectin. They believe this drug has the potential to eliminate malaria.
THE LONG TERM DELIVERY-WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN AND HOW IS IT BETTER?
Drugs that are taken orally are active only for a limited period of time. When the taken medicine passes through the body, they are hampered by the harsh environments inside the stomach and intestines.
The new invention of long term capsule solves all the above said problems. Ivermectin kills any mosquito that bites a person who has taken the medicine. In this way, a huge population of people, irrespective of the fact whether they are infected or not, residing in a malaria prone area, can be treated to eradicate malaria.
The research has led to the establishment of a new company, Lyndra. It is a Cambridge based company whose prime motive is to improve the newly developed drug.
In order to achieve long term drug delivery, the researchers had to make sure that the drug is designed in such a way so as to fight the harsh environment inside the stomach and intestines. The capsule is meant to break down after releasing the drug and pass through the digestive tract thereafter.
Thus, a star shaped structure was developed with six arms that are flexible enough to be folded and encapsulated inside a smooth capsule. The arms are made up of a rigid polymer called polycaprolactone. The arms are loaded with drug molecules. The arms are attached by a linker to a rubbery core that is meant to break down eventually after the drug release.
The outer layer of the capsule gets dissolved once it is swallowed, thereby allowing the six arms to unfold. After the expansion of the star, it becomes large enough to resist any force that would otherwise force it down the digestive tract. However, it does not block the digestive tract.
The drug has been tested on pigs and has been successful. It may take long before it is launched into the market. However, once it is launched, it can be easily called as one of the major milestones in the history of medical science.