New technology delivers sustained release of drugs for up to six months

16/08/2012

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A new technology which delivers sustained release of therapeutics for up to six months could be used in conditions which require routine injections, including diabetes, certain forms of cancer and potentially HIV/AIDS.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed injectable, reformable and spreadable hydrogels which can be loaded with proteins or other therapeutics. The hydrogels contain up to 99.7% water by weight, with the remainder primarily made up of cellulose polymers held together with cucurbiturils – barrel-shaped molecules which act as miniature ‘handcuffs’.

“The hydrogels protect the proteins so that they remain bio-active for long periods, and allow the proteins to remain in their native state,” says Dr Oren Scherman of the Department of Chemistry, who led the research. “Importantly, all the components can be incorporated at room temperature, which is key when dealing with proteins which denature when exposed to high heat.”

The hydrogels developed by Scherman, Dr Xian Jun Loh and PhD student Eric Appel, are capable of delivering sustained release of the proteins they contain for up to six months, compared with the current maximum of three months. The rate of release can be controlled according to the ratio of materials in the hydrogel.


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Image:  Hydrogel technology may reduce the need for injections
Credit: Soldiers by Heather Aitken, Flickr

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge
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