No More Daily Doses: New Capsule Achieves Long-Term Drug Delivery

Star-shaped sustained release tabletMany people don’t like taking medicine, even seeming to forget when their doctors prescribe regular doses deliberately. Therefore, it makes treating illnesses like Alzheimer’s and malaria very complicated.

Memory lapses or inconvenience overcome strict dosing routines. Patients and doctors require a long-term delivery technique which is effective and safe, so people can simply swallow and forget.

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital has developed an innovative star-shaped capsule which might help to save lives.

The team led by Dr. Robert Langer and Dr. Tim Salivan from came up with a new, long-term drug delivery capsule which remains in the stomach, gradually releasing medication for up to 2 weeks. One can conveniently fold this ground-breaking star-shaped into a pill and holds the necessary medication for weeks or even months in its six limbs.

Dr. Salivan did mention that their team tried several approaches and tested a variety of shapes including the hexagon and star design shown in their paper in Science Translational Medicine. He also added that they chose the optimal configuration and shape of the dosage form because of its performance depending on manufacturability, ease of encapsulation, gastric stability, and the drug release properties.

The current design has a six-sided star that a patient can fold into a capsule. Once the pill enters the stomach, the acid will dissolve the exterior layer and the arms stretch out. The design and size of the star prevent it from being digested further beyond the stomach until the intended period, and this was successfully demonstrated after testing on pigs.

Progress didn’t come easy, though. Dr. Salivan said that they encountered numerous challenges that were very crucial including protection of the drug in the gastric environment, safe prolonged gastric residence, and encapsulation of a drug that can remain in the stomach for such an extended period.

A spinoff company, Lyndra, has been established to advance the technology. The firm will focus on chronic diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes, and HIV since the patients suffering from these diseases would really benefit from this long-term drug delivery. Human trials are scheduled to start in 2017.