New system would let you take a drug by just pressing your skin

March 20, 2013

Controlled release of drug (ondansetron in this example) by hand pressure (credit: National Institute for Materials Science)

An implantable gel material that can release drugs in response to pressure applied by a patient has been developed by researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan.

Oral administration of drugs may be difficult for patients experiencing nausea during cancer chemotherapy, for diabetics (to release insulin), and for other conditions.

The idea is for this controlled-release system is for a doctor to insert a gel material drug under the skin, allowing the drug to be released by simply pressing or rubbing the area.

Using samples of the gel containing the anti-nausea drug ondansetron, the researchers confirmed that the drug could be released by applying pressure mimicking finger-pressure by a patient.

The design does not require special devices and a source of electricity

The gel is produced by crosslinking calcium alginate, a naturally derived component contained in algae, with cyclodextrin, a saccharide. Both substances are already used in pharmaceuticals.