New and better ways to administer medications

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could have all the treatment of a medication through a single shot? Or better yet, that instead of injections or pills, you could simply apply drops to your eyelid or inhale the medication.

Some of these possibilities can already be explored through the new generation of microparticle-based drug-releasing devices.

There is currently a trend towards the development of new materials and processes that cause less ecological impact on the environment. In Tecnológico de Monterrey there are teams such as the Strategic Approach Research Group in Nanomaterials, led by Dr. Joaquín Oseguera of the State of Mexico Campus, where, among other topics, work is being done on the production of biopolymers from bacteria that they have advantages such as, for example, being biodegradable, that is to say that they can be absorbed by the environment, also reducing contamination, so that eventually they can be substituted with them to conventional petroleum-based plastics (non-biodegradable).

This type of bioplastics, which are produced by bacteria, have some interesting properties, such as being thermoplastics, which allows them to be machined to manufacture different devices. They are also biocompatible materials, that is, they could remain inside the organism without generating toxic or adverse reactions to it, besides being biodegradable they can also be assimilated by the human body.

All these characteristics make them optimal for many medical and pharmaceutical applications, such as the manufacture of surgical materials, materials for tissue engineering and design of drug-eluting devices (DDS).

In this last item, the advantages of using biopolymers with the application of micro and nanotechnology can be combined to produce drug delivery systems using micro and nanoparticles based on these new biopolymers.

Tecnológico de Monterrey
Scheme of controlled release of drug by means of microspheres.

The advantages of these devices can be very large, such as, for example, their prolonged release, because as the material degrades, it releases the medication, thus achieving less frequent administration, minimal side effects, possibility of localized effect in the release of the drug, and especially new routes of administration that can be: intraocular, intraarterial or by inhalation.

This means that microspheres loaded with medication could be administered in the future, perhaps by inhalation, and these microspheres would travel through the bloodstream releasing the dose of medication needed for the entire treatment as they biodegrade, all through a single dose, and even, eventually, go to specific tissues or organs to release such medication.

Tecnológico de Monterrey
Diagram of administration of medications by inhalation from microspheres 

Therefore, continue with research for the development of this type of device is very relevant. At the moment, the manufacture of the biopolymer microspheres has been carried out with two model drugs, Riboflavin and Curcumin, due to its antioxidant, antibacterial and promoter properties of more efficient metabolic processes within the cells.

The microspheres have also been studied through some material characterization techniques, which have allowed us to fully understand the properties of the micro-device. In vitro release studies have also been carried out to test drug release times in simulated environments and cell assays have been started to study the cellular response to microspheres.

This research, directed by Dr. Berenice Vergara, aims to manufacture microspheres with two model drugs that will eventually allow the clinical tests and validations necessary to combine a solid platform towards the manufacture of microspheres as a product that can be marketable.

It is important to emphasize that in order to carry out this type of development it is necessary to combine different areas of knowledge, such as materials sciences, chemistry, nanotechnology and biotechnology. For this reason, interaction from of a multidisciplinary group with doctoral, masters and professional students from different areas such as Chemistry, Biotechnology and Bionics, among others is necessary.


About the author:
Arturo Elías Aguilar Rabiela is a Bionic Engineer and currently a PhD student in Doctorate in Engineering Science (DCI) from Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Estado de México. Co-author of some scientific publications: and a student partner of the Mexican Chemical Society. If you want more information, contact: