Drugs Delivered in Gel Could Treat Bowel Disease

A team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has found that using a hydrogel may be the answer to targeting hard to reach tissues and treat temperamental diseases such as irritable bowel disease.

Often, those living with IBD have limited treatment options, relying on enemas daily to relieve symptoms of pain, diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. But these treatments are uncomfortable, and using enemas may send drugs to otherwise healthy tissues that don’t need them.

Publishing their results in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers found that negatively-charged water-based gels act like a magnet that sticks only to sites of inflammation - which are positively charged. The gels will release the drug dose only when coming into contact with a specific enzyme created by a disease so it's dispensed only where it is needed. These gels are also able to time-release the drug.

By using this approach, the researchers say they can create an enema that IBD patients can use weekly instead of daily, with no systemic side effects, and no need to retain the enema, which can cause complications.

To test the gel, the team used mice genetically engineered to have a form of ulcerative colitis. They found the gel reduced inflammation more than traditional treatments. Mice treated with the gel also had five to 10 times lower concentrations of the drugs in their bloodstream than with a traditional enema. This means the gel successfully reduced the chances drugs may spread to affect other healthy tissues and organs. 

The team plans to work on further developing this gel and testing out other drugs before conducting clinical trials on humans.

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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Inflammatory bowel disease may be treatable with gel-delivered drugs