Nav: Home

New discovery could help oral medicines work better

November 01, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (11/01/16) -- A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and The Dow Chemical Company have discovered a new method for customizing ingredients that help oral medications dissolve in the body and be absorbed into the bloodstream. The materials discovered in this study could allow life-saving drugs to work faster and more efficiently.

The University of Minnesota and Dow have filed a patent on the discovery that may also lower the cost to produce new medications.

The research study is now online and is published in the current issue of the American Chemical Society's ACS Central Science, a leading journal in the chemical sciences.

One of the biggest challenges for pharmaceutical companies when developing oral medications is to ensure that the body will fully absorb the drug molecules. Many therapeutic structures do not easily dissolve on the molecular level, which means they are less effective. In that case, the dose must be increased for patients, which may increase side effects.

"A way to explain the differences in solubility of medicines is to think of how sugar easily dissolves in water and is rapidly absorbed by your digestive system, whereas sand doesn't dissolve in water and if swallowed, would pass right through the digestive system," said Theresa Reineke, a chemistry professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and lead researcher on the study.

Drug companies add substances, called excipients, to help the medicines dissolve in the stomach and intestinal fluid, but there have been few improvements in recent years to this decades-old technology. The process outlined in the study is a major breakthrough that revolutionizes the process of making drug structures more soluble in the body so that they are better absorbed.

Funded by Dow, researchers examined two medications--phenytoin, an anti-seizure drug, and nilutamide, a drug used to treat advanced-stage prostate cancer. The team used automated equipment at Dow to synthesize long-chain molecules. Their efficiency as excipients with these drugs were then tested with facilities at the University of Minnesota, including the Characterization Facility located in the University's College of Science and Engineering. One particular excipient discovered by this research allowed these insoluble drugs to fully dissolve in simulated intestinal fluid in a test tube. When they tested phenytoin with the new excipient in rat models, it promoted drug absorption three times better than the previous formulation.

"While we were pleased with the results with these specific drugs, the most important thing is that we have developed a high throughput methodology for excipient development that could be used by many companies to create other life-saving medicines," Reineke said.

"It takes about $1 billion dollars and 10 to 15 years for a pharmaceutical company to develop a new drug, but then they sometimes find marketable formulations are limited by solubility," said Steven Guillaudeu, a lead R&D manager at Dow and co-author of the study. "The methodology our team has created could help drug companies advance their pipeline compounds by using a better method to improve solubility and therefore bioavailability. The approach could have a major impact on the multibillion-dollar industry."

The research discovery is one result of a five-year collaboration between Dow and the University of Minnesota for research partnerships to develop new chemical solutions, improve research facilities, and train the next generation of scientists.

"This discovery is a perfect example of what can happen when industry and academia come together," said Frank Bates, a Regents Professor in the University's Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and co-author of the study. "This research has yielded something that could have a huge effect on human health and lower the cost of medications."
In addition to Reineke, Guillaudeu, and Bates, other researchers who were part of the team included current and former University of Minnesota students and post doctoral researchers Jeffrey Ting (lead author), Swapnil Tale, Anatolii A. Purchel, Seamus D. Jones, Lakmini Widanapathirana, Zachary P. Tolstyka, and former Dow researcher Li Guo.

To read the complete research study, entitled "High-throughput Excipient Discovery Enables Oral Delivery of Poorly Soluble Pharmaceuticals," visit the ACS Central Science website.

University of Minnesota

Related Drugs Articles:

Wallflowers could lead to new drugs
Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides - like digitoxin - have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies.
Bristol pioneers use of VR for designing new drugs
Researchers at the University of Bristol are pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a tool to design the next generation of drug treatments.
Towards better anti-cancer drugs
The Bayreuth biochemist Dr. Claus-D. Kuhn and his research team have deciphered how the important human oncogene CDK8 is activated in cells of healthy individuals.
Separating drugs with MagLev
The composition of suspicious powders that may contain illicit drugs can be analyzed using a quick and simple method called magneto-Archimedes levitation (MagLev), according to a new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer
American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.
Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK
Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation, reveals new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey into global trends of substance-linked sex.
Promising new drugs for old pathogen Mtb
UConn researchers are targeting a metabolic pathway, the dihydrofolate reductase pathway, crucial for amino acid synthesis to treat TB infections.
Can psychedelic drugs heal?
Many people think of psychedelics as relics from the hippie generation or something taken by ravers and music festival-goers, but they may one day be used to treat disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
New uses for existing antiviral drugs
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs work against a range of viral diseases, but developing them can be costly and time consuming.
New TB drugs possible with understanding of old antibiotic
Tuberculosis, and other life-threatening microbial diseases, could be more effectively tackled with future drugs, thanks to new research into an old antibiotic by the University of Warwick and the Francis Crick Institute.
More Drugs News and Drugs Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.