Gel may cut doses for some medications

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. A material invented at Purdue University is showing promise as a drug-delivery system that might replace some multiple-dose medications with a single daily formulation.

Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Miami, Fla., has signed a license from the Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization to develop the material for a "gastric-retention" drug-delivery system.

The material, called "superporous hydrogels," expands dramatically when immersed in water. Oral drug delivery formulations made from the gels would swell rapidly in the stomach, causing medications to move more slowly from the stomach to the intestines.

Because the medications would remain in the stomach longer, they would be absorbed more efficiently by the body. Such a system might make it possible to take certain medications only once daily, instead of three or more times a day, said Kinam Park, a professor of pharmaceutics and biomedical engineering at Purdue.

Unlike other gels being tested for drug delivery, the superporous hydrogels swell to hundreds of times their dehydrated form within a matter of seconds, said Park, the gels' inventor.

Conventional hydrogels of the same size take hours to expand. The new hydrogels' rapid expansion is possible because they are riddled with numerous, interconnected pores, each one about the width of a human hair. The pores act as capillaries to draw in water.

"When you swallow something into the stomach, unless it swells very fast, it is going to be emptied into the intestine rather quickly," said Park. "That's why we came up with the so-called superporous hydrogels for gastric-retention applications."

Formulation scientists at Kos Pharmaceuticals were impressed with the technology, said Daniel M. Bell, the company's president and chief executive officer.

"We believe it will extend the number of opportunities we can pursue in improving the formulations of certain existing products," B

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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