Gradual or extended-release of a drug into a human body has been a long-sought goal in the field of medicine. The problem that arises with extended drug release is that it ends its journey through the gastrointestinal tract (GI) before dispensing their entire medication. Due to normal constriction and relaxation of a GI tract, it is challenging for an extended drug release to hold its position in the intestine long enough for the patient to receive the full dose.
As an exciting development in the Gastrointestinal Device Market, scientists have found a way to solve the problem mentioned above through ‘theragrippers.’ They are constructed from metal and a thin, shape-changing film, coated in heat-sensitive paraffin wax. They are similar in size to that of a speck of dust and have the potential to carry any drug and gradually release it in the body.
They are star-shaped and tiny microdevices that can stick on the intestinal mucosa and then release drugs into the body. When they are exposed to internal body temperatures, they can close on the intestinal wall. In the center of the gripper, there is a space that contains a small dose of the drugs, which can then be gradually released.
Researchers involved in designing and testing this shape-changing microdevice were inspired by a parasite worm that can dig its sharp teeth into its host’s intestines. Similarly, this device can also affix itself into an organism’s intestines.
Thousands of these microdevices can be sent out in the GI tract. The instant paraffin wax coating on the theragrippers reaches the temperature inside the body; the devices all independently close and fix themselves onto the colonic wall. This closing action sets off the device to dig into the mucosa and stay attached to the colon. Here they retain and release their medicine load slowly into the body. After some time, they gradually release their hold on the tissue and moves through the GI tract by normal gastrointestinal muscular function.
These grippers do not work on external controls, electricity, or wireless signals. But they are like small compressed springs that have temperature triggered coating on the devices that has the ability to release stored energy autonomously at body temperature.
The researchers tested these devices by loading a pain-relieving drug inside them and giving it to animals. They concluded that animals that were given theragrippers had a higher concentration of the drug in their bloodstream than the control group. Moreover, the drug stayed in the body of animals for nearly 12 hours, while in the case of the control group, it was only about 2 hours.
These devices would be a great help in the medicinal field as they can provide a patient with gradual drug doses and stay inside the body for a more extended period.
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