The team of researchers
tested the efficacy of the drug and its ability to deliver medication using
both mathematical models as well as large animal models. For the purpose of the
study, ivermectin, a drug used in the treatment of parasitic infections
was used. The drug also helped in
keeping mosquitoes that carried
‘New long-acting capsule helps deliver ivermectin - an anti-parasitic drug to fight against malaria.’
biomedical engineer in the Division of Gastroenterology at BWH and an
instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Giovanni Traverso said
"We want to make it as easy as possible for people to take their
medications over a sustained period of time. When patients have to remember to
take a drug everyday or multiple times a day, we start to see less and less
adherence to the regimen. Being able to swallow a capsule once a week or once a
month could change the way we think about delivering medications."
Non- Adherence to
Medications need to be
taken for a prescribed period of time to help cure the patient and non-
adherence can interfere with the course of treatment.
- Studies show that
30 to 60% do not adhere to medications. Non-adherence is especially high
when there are no symptoms exhibited.
- 77% of patients
were found to adhere to a medication schedule when it was to cure a
- 63% of patients
adhered to medication when it was for prevention.
- Only 50% of
patients adhered to long term compliance for medication, whether it was
for prevention or cure.
- 20 to 80% of
patients make errors while taking medications
- 20 to 60% stop
medications even before they ought to
- Patients are also
known to mix medications, which can be potentially fatal
- In the U.S,
non-adherence leads to 100 billion dollars in expenditure.
- In poor resource
settings, there may not be the availability of a lot of medication to last
- Patients may be
unwilling to travel long distances for medications every time, this is
especially true in rural areas.
The problems that are
caused due to non-adherence and the need to find a solution prompted these
researchers to develop a drug that is slowly released into the system, over a
period of time. The co-first author of the study Dr. Andrew Bellinger said
"In addition to improving adherence, our ultra long-acting drug delivery
system may reduce side effects and improve drug efficacy by smoothing out the
high variability of serum concentration that often comes with taking a daily
pill." Dr Andrew is the Chief Scientific Officer at Lydra, the company
that has licensed the technology from Brigham and Women's Hospital and MIT and
is developing the same for commercial use.
The Long Acting Drug
The drug is the size of
a fish oil capsule which turns star shaped when consumed and gets lodged in the
digestive system. It is too big to be removed from the pylorus of the stomach.
The drug does not prevent food to move through this system.
The drug consists of
polymers and other material that are designed to keep the drug in the system
for longer periods of time.
Dr Traverso further added, "The
gastrointestinal tract is a strong, durable passage way through the body. We
designed the capsule to pause its transit in the stomach to allow for more
controlled drug delivery and absorption, before passing through the
gastrointestinal tract without any harm. Some of the challenges we face in
getting the capsule in place are the 'ship in the bottle problem' - in this
case, the neck of the bottle is the esophagus - and preventing the capsule from
passing through the rest of the tube. The pylorus is about 2 centimeters in
diameter so we designed our system to be 4 centimeters when it opens."
is a drug that is used for river
blindness and other parasitic infections. The presence of the drug in the blood
kills mosquitoes, which prevents the spread of malaria. Currently the
researchers have been able to maintain the drug in the body for about 2 weeks,
however, they would like to increase the duration to about one month.
The drug is being
developed for psychiatric
illnesses, infectious diseases like HIV,
heart diseases and renal diseases. The potential use of this drug in supporting
patients who may not be in the right frame of mind or with the required mental
capability to follow a regimen like in psychiatric ailments, may be a concrete
step forward towards better medical care.
- Definitions, Variants and Causes of Nonadherence with Medication: A Challenge for Tailored Interventions - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3711878/)