Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have recently announced that they have developed a new type of material called a polyzwitterionic complex (PZC), which is able to both withstand the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach and then dissolve likely in the relatively mild environment of the small intestine. This property means that pZCs might aid in the delivery of medical medications of all sorts, from familiar oral antibiotics to new classes of delicate protein therapeutics.
Although it''s common to swallow medications orally, there are a wide range of therapies that aren''t available, according to Karim Margossian, the lead author of the study and a candidate for a dual degree in Pharmacy and Pharmacy from the University of Massachusetts, respectively. However, pain, fear, and potential side effects can hinder a patient''s ability to undergo treatment or to maintain its full course. In both instances, the pain, fear, and potential risks can be borne on the patient''s confidence in
If there were any way to protect this precious therapeutic cargo, Margossian said, we might expand the library of medications we may distribute orally. Exactly what Margossian, Muthukumar, and their colleagues have done.
The study, which was recently published inNature Communications, reveals a new class of materials called a pZC, which forms through a process known as complex coacervation. Two types of charged polymers, a polyzwitterion and a polyelectrolyte, each have to form a protective droplet inside of which medications can travel. The trick that the pZC has to do is that it must not only be tough enough to resist the extremely acidic stomach environment
The main goal of the group success was not to strengthen the bonds between the polyzwitterion and the polyelectrolyte, but to weaken them. According to Muthukumar, weakening the relationship between the two materials allows us to control precisely when they come apart. If the bonds are too strong, then there is no room to play.
The research undertaken by groups is driven by the real-life needs of medical practitioners. Not only will these materials allow clinicians to effectively prescribe the right dosages of drugs, but these will significantly increase the number of medications that can be taken orally. This is a foundational process that can alter how we treat disease, according to Margossian. We hope that our work will transform clinicians'' minds and help them save lives.
The National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research have provided a grant for this research.