This Long-Acting Pill Can Release Daily Doses of Medicine for a Month

Nov 18, 2016 05:12 AM EST

Scientists have managed to perfect a pill that, when taken, releases daily doses of medicine for extended periods of time.

Investigators and collaborators from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a long-acting drug capsule that can continue releasing a dose of medicine for a day, a week, or even a month.

According to Science Daily, researchers have used such a new model with the drug ivermectin used to treat infections such as river blindness. The medicine has an added bonus to keep malaria-carrying mosquitoes at bay. 

The team has developed a carrying pill about the size of a fish oil capsule when swallowed. The capsule then unfolds into a star-shaped structure that will be too large to pass through the pylorus and exit the stomach. However, it was designed to still allow food to pass through the digestive system.

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The capsule has polymers and other materials infused with ivermectin to allow the drug to slowly diffuse it out over time. 

Recent tests on mathematical models and animal models have yielded very hopeful results. The researchers are hoping to use this long-acting drug delivery capsule to treat various parasitic infections. 

The team found out that large animal models have the capsule in the stomach for 14 days. The drug is also continuously releasing the drug at regular intervals, meaning the drug can be an actual method of combatting malaria and other infectious diseases. 

C. Giovanni Traverso from Harvard Medical School said that such a method can make it substantially easier for patients to take their medicine for a sustained period. He added when patients "have to remember to take the drug," there's a noticeable less adherence to the regimen. 

Medical adherence is said to be a problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, non-adherence has led to more than $100 billion in expenses a year. Such a problem is also persistent in low-resource settings where patients may not have immediate access to healthcare.

This has led to an initiative on fields such as biomechanical engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, infectious disease modeling, polymer chemistry, and healthcare innovation. 

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