Patient controlled drug delivery is useful in a variety of situations when people themselves are best in deciding when to administer a medication. Pain, nausea, and vertigo can often be treated with drugs, but only if those are administered effectively for the body to absorb. Yet, having to have some kind of device that introduces medicines to the body is a major impediment to practical implementation.
Japanese researchers have now developed a new approach that delivers drugs in a controlled manner but doesn’t require any devices to do so. They were able to embed an antiemetic (ondansetron) into a specialty gel that, when squeezed, releases the drug into its environment. This ability to release the chemical compound due to pressure was maintained by the gel for at least three days. The team envisions that these new gels will be implanted under the skin to deliver drugs that are best avoided orally (ex: antiemetics) or that would require an injection.
From Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science:
Because this material does not require special devices, electricity, etc., it can be used even when lifeline infrastructure has been interrupted by disasters, in developing countries where the lifeline is inherently inadequate, etc. It will also be possible for patients to administer drugs under any environment at their own intention. Many situations where patients wish to administer drugs quickly “on-demand” are also assumed, for example, for relief from cancer pain, hay fever, or asthma. Thus, this material offers an extremely convenient new dosing strategy.
The gel is produced by crosslinking calcium alginate, which is a naturally-derived component contained in algae, with cyclodextrin, which is a saccharide. Both substances are already used in pharmaceuticals. Cyclodextrin hosts a drug as a guest. This is the first report in which a host-guest interaction is controlled by mechanical stimulus.