According tomedia reports, oral contraceptives are still one of the most common contraceptive methods, but only if you remember to take them every day. To eliminate some of the risks and problems, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) updated their slow-release star-shaped oral capsules to last up to four weeks and use them to deliver contraceptives.
MIT first demonstrated the star-shaped drug delivery system it designed in 2016. Although it doesn’t look good at all, its arm is designed to fold up and place it in a regular gelatin capsule, which only expands after reaching the stomach.
Once there, the wider star will stay in the stomach and start working. Each of the six arms is made of polymer and carries any drug load struck. When they slowly dissolve within a few weeks, they continue to release the drug.
When the above step is completed, it is only when the constant heart of the drug delivery — made from biodegradable elastic materials — is soluble. This allows the already empty polymer arm to break and pass through the intestines and then discharge it in a harmless way.
Previously, the team — made up of scientists from MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a subsidiary start-up called Lyndra Therapeutics — used the star design to deliver drugs for AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease. Among them, HIV testing was conducted in pigs, while Alzheimer’s was tested in humans — the first clinical trial in humans. Unfortunately, in both cases, the drug was released for only two weeks.
Now, the researchers have extended the time, this time applying the technique to another long-term drug, the oral contraceptive pill.
First, the team tested and selected two polyurethane materials in a simulated stomach acid environment. They then adjusted the concentration of drugs and polymers on the arm to find the best balance of the speed at which the drug is released. In this trial, the researchers chose progesterone.
Researchers Ameya Kirtane (left) and Tiffany Hua (right)
When they tested the astral capsules on pigs, the team found that the release time of the drugs increased to four weeks.
Robert Langer, author of the study, said: “We hope that this work — the first month-long pill or capsule we know — will one day lead to potential new models and options for women’s health and other applications.” “
The team says it hopes to begin human clinical trials of a new contraceptive delivery system within the next three to five years.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.