“Keep a watch also on the faults of the patients, which often make them lie about the taking of things prescribed,” warned the father of medicine, Hippocrates, 2500 years ago.
In the 1980s, Dr C Everett Koop, probably the best-known US surgeon-general, famously summarised: “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.”
Not much has changed. Studies indicate that up to 50% do not take their medicine – some forget, others deny the need for it. Still others take the wrong medication at the wrong time, or the wrong dose.
At best, it invalidates patient care. At worst, it endangers their lives. It is an intractable problem that has existed as long as medical practice.
But perhaps not for much longer. IntelliDrug, a project funded by the European Commission, has developed a system that delivers controlled drug doses at appropriate intervals, keeping the dose delivered within the exact therapeutic window. Better yet, it is easy to maintain and requires no invasive procedure.
The answer to the 2500 year-old compliance conundrum? A prosthetic tooth, just two molars in size, containing a reservoir, valve and programmable timing controls. It can even be controlled by infrared, which allows doctors to adjust doses during the course of treatment. Ultimately, it could allow patients on pain medication to self-medicate, if necessary.
Bioavailability refers to the body’s capacity to absorb a substance. “Our evolution has designed us so that the body rejects or impedes alien substances and large, unusual molecules,” says Dr Beiski. Molecules like those, typically, that make-up many modern drugs.
The upshot is that most drugs suffer from the first-pass effect. Between stomach acid, the gastrointestinal tract and, finally, the liver much – or even all – of a given dose is eliminated before it hits the bloodstream, where it does its work. “That’s why we need intravenous injections, to avoid the first-pass effect,” explains Dr Beiski.
But IntelliDrug delivers the dose to the buccal tissue, on the inside of the cheek, where the body absorbs drug doses much more easily. Doses can be smaller and take effect quicker.
Here is how it works. The micro-system contains a reservoir and release mechanism; a programmable circuit, micro-sensors, an infrared sensor, micro-actuators and batteries. All housed in a tiny package. The circuit acts like a miniscule computer, releasing the dose required at the right time.
Ultimately, the batteries should last three months. Refilling the reservoir would vary, depending on the type of drug and dosage, but could range from every week to every month. In a later system, the team hopes to use radio-frequency identification (RFID) and later GSM telephony to communicate with the system.
It is a demonstration of the power of multidisciplinary co-operation between several scientific disciplines like micro-systems, micro-fluidics, dentistry, and pharmacy.But does it work?
If successful, it could revolutionise treatment. The device can be applied to any drug, and Dr Beiski sees applications for hypertensive patients to combat morning increases in blood pressure. Chronic pain, diabetics and Alzheimer’s patients could benefit, too, making it an attractive system for patients and doctors.
For pharmaceutical companies, it is even more attractive, offering the equivalent of patent protection for generic drugs using the system. The combination would be protected by IntelliDrug intellectual property.
But perhaps most important of all, it will mean, finally, an end to the 2500 year-old patient compliance conundrum.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients
28.03.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
When writing interferes with hearing
28.03.2017 | Université de Genève
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences