Sprite, the popular lemon-lime flavored, caffeine-free soft drink, can enhance the effectiveness of an oral anticancer drug, it seems.
In a study appearing in ACS' Molecular Pharmaceutics
, a bi-monthly journal, Faraj Atassi and colleagues with the Eli Lilly and Company note that efforts are underway to develop more anticancer medications that patients can take by mouth. However, biological variations among patients — due to variations in stomach acidity and other factors — can reduce the effectiveness of oral anticancer drugs.
Such was the case with the unnamed anticancer drug in the study, identified only as "Compound X." There were wide differences in how the drug was absorbed in the first patients who took it.
The scientists combined Compound X with Captisol, a substance that helps improve the solubility of drug ingredients, and turned to the artificial stomach. That glass-and-plastic device is used to study how drugs and foods dissolve through the GI tract.
In the research, Sprite seemed to control stomach acidity in a way likely to allow greater absorption of the drug into the body.
The researchers wrote, "Lilly Compound X (LCX) is an oncology drug that was tested in a phase I clinical study using starch blend capsules. The drug was given to a small patient population (4 patients) and showed large inter- and intra-patient variability. In order to evaluate the possible effect of stomach pH on exposure and ways to mitigate the variability issue, artificial stomach−duodenum (ASD) experiments were conducted to investigate the hypothesis that carefully selected dosing fluids would have an impact in minimizing exposure variability caused by the formulation, which could lead to more consistent evaluation of drug absorption in patients.
"The ASD data corroborates the observed variability, and was a good tool to investigate the effect of stomach pH and potential dosing solutions on duodenal concentrations. Administering capsules co-formulated with Captisol (10% drug load) along with Sprite was shown by the ASD to be an effective way to increase duodenal concentrations as well as to reduce the difference between duodenal concentrations for different gastric pH. The reduction in variability of duodenum AUC (in ASD) is expected to correlate well with a reduction of variability in patient exposure. The dosing regimen of Sprite/Captisol is therefore suggested for future clinical trials involving LCX. Furthermore, for design of early phase clinical trials, ASD technology can be used to assist in choosing the proper dosing solution to mitigate absorption and exposure variability issues."