Implanted capsule the future of drug delivery?

October 9, 2009
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

A new drug delivery method developed by scientists could enable prescription drugs to be buried inside the body where drug release could be prompted by a biological trigger, such as a drop in blood sugar levels, or activated manually with a pulse of light.

A new drug delivery method developed by scientists could enable prescription drugs to be buried inside the body where drug release could be prompted by a biological trigger, such as a drop in blood sugar levels, or activated manually with a pulse of light.

The technique, developed by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, uses micrometer-sized capsules that safely deliver a specific dose of medication inside living cells. A press statement explains that in the future "this technique could allow full courses of prescription drugs to be effectively 'shrink-wrapped and buried under the skin or inside the body". The technology, referred to as "micro shuttles" by the statement, could be particularly useful for diseases that require regular dosing, such as diabetes.

"The main advantages of using such microcapsules is that they can be designed to be very stable inside the body, protecting their contents," Matthieu Bedard, a PhD student at Queen Mary's School of Engineering and Materials Science, said in the press statement. "This is particularly important for the many medications that are rapidly degraded or altered by the body. These capsules can be used to 'store' drugs in the body for later use."

Working with Professor Gleb Sukhorukov at the School of Engineering and Materials Science, Bedard has proved that the technique works in living tissue by delivering fluorescent test molecules in light-activated capsules. However, Sukhorukov added: "There are still questions about how to direct the capsules to the right cells, as well as finding a way to make capsules that are safer for human use. It is possible that we will see useful applications for this technology being tested in the next 5 years."

A blog regarding this 'micro shuttle' technology can be read here.