Patients suffering from persistent conditions such as chronic pain are typically faced with two choices: enduring the symptoms of their condition, or acceptance of the consequences of taking large volumes of systemic drugs. There has been significant research worldwide on the development of sustainable, biodegradable, localized medicine delivery systems which aim to address this issue. Until recently, such systems have only functioned for several weeks at the most, but now, researchers at MIT have developed a technique that may lengthen the life span of targeted drug delivery systems to up to 14 months.
In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe a layered system of nano-scale films, which allows for the controlled release of medicine over a longer period of time than was previously possible. The researchers tested the delivery system on a small molecule, nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), diclofenac, used to treat osteoarthritis and chronic pain. The benefits of a localized, sustainable drug-deliver system are numerous, including minimized exposure of vital organs to high doses of medicine, maintaining a relevant concentration of medicine in the afflicted region, and allowing the patient to go over a year between re-implantation of the device. Hopefully, this technology will prove to be a useful tool in easing the process of treating numerous debilitating conditions.
From the study:
“Drug release from implants and coatings provides a means for local administration while minimizing systemic toxicity. Controlled release can provide a slowly eluting drug reservoir to maintain elevated therapeutic levels. Devices based on degradable polymer matrices can control drug release for multiple weeks, but longer durations typically require bulky, nondegradable devices. Using a combination of a polymer–drug conjugate and its electrostatic thin film assembly, we discovered a predictable long-term sustained release of more than 14 mo, far exceeding the duration noted in most previous reports, especially those from biodegradable matrices. Because of the substantial drug loading, nanoscale films were able to maintain significant concentrations that remained highly potent. We report a versatile, long-term drug delivery platform with broad biomedical implications.”