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Magnetic pills attractive option for drug delivery

By Alexandria Pešić , 20-Jan-2011

A magnetically controlled pill may boost the body’s absorption of drugs by safely securing the tablet at the right site in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, say researchers at Brown University, US.

Edith Mathiowitz, one of the authors of the study, told in-PharmaTechnologist: “What our system provides is a safe and effective means of localising a pill in its area of greatest bioactivity.”

She explained that the pill’s retention works by creating an inter-magnetic force between the magnetic gelatin capsule and an external magnet.

From there, real time monitoring using biplanar video-fluoroscopy enables researchers to investigate the therapeutic benefits of oral delivery of new and existing drugs positioned by magnets in the right part of the GI tract for maximum drug absorption.

There have been other attempts at guiding pills magnetically, driven by the knowledge that most drugs can only be absorbed in certain parts of the intestine, but Mathiowitz claims this new system is the first to allow scientists to control the forces on a pill so it is safe to use in the body.

Improved safety

“We have improved the safety of doing so by monitoring the inter-magnetic force and anatomic position of the magnetic pill in real time while the pill is being localised,” said Mathiowitz.

She said the use of a magnet ensures the pill stays at the target therapeutic area for longer, which helps the drug’s uptake and bioavailability without damaging intestinal tissue.

Given a few years in development, Mathiowitz and colleagues aim to test the system in large animals and eventually enter into the clinic.

Mathiowitz believes the magnetically controlled pills could potentially change the landscape of drug delivery and pharmacological research, with a wide variety of medicines standing to benefit from the tablet being held at the therapeutics’ target area for longer.

Treating GI cancers

“Ultimately we could envisage our system being of great use in targeting GI cancers, other GI diseases, and being used to administer drugs orally that currently suffer from poor oral absorption,” she said.

The system might also be used as a tool to investigate the absorption of new drugs in various locations to determine where they are best absorbed.

“Safe and effective monitored magnetic pill localisation is a crucial step for investigating and producing new site-specific therapies for the treatment of a wide range of diseases,” said Mathiowitz.

“With a safe and effective means of localizing pills, the therapeutic value of locally delivered drugs can be assessed in vivo towards the improvement of existing products and the development of new, more effective pharmacotherapies and ingestible devices.”

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Pages 1-10, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016367108

“Localisation of magnetic pills”

Authors: Bryan Laulicht, Nicholas J. Gidmark, Anubhav Tripathi, and Edith Mathiowitz

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