Scientists have developed a revolutionary device inspired by octopus suckers that has the potential to deliver drugs without the need for needles or pills. This device, a small patch measuring 0.4 by 0.2 inch, can adhere to the inner lining of the cheek and increase the absorption of an attached drug. In a trial involving dogs, the patch successfully delivered two drugs, desmopressin and semaglutide, which are used to treat excessive thirst, the urge to urinate frequently, diabetes, and obesity. Moreover, a version of the patch without a drug attached was safely used by 40 human volunteers for 30 minutes, allowing them to talk, move around, and rinse their mouths with water.
This patch could potentially revolutionize drug delivery by providing a less invasive and more comfortable alternative, especially for larger drugs that are poorly absorbed by the digestive system and typically require injection. The ability of the patch to stretch across the lining of the cheek increases the permeability of the mucosal membranes, which is particularly promising for large biological drugs that are usually given through injection due to poor absorption.
Compared to other drug delivery systems, including nasal delivery systems and microneedles, the patch offers a more straightforward and less invasive option. However, further development is still needed. The researchers need to conduct more extensive tests to determine the effectiveness and safety of repeated usage of the patch. Additionally, they need to identify which drugs can be used with the patch. The target is large molecules, such as those used to treat obesity or osteoporosis, but the molecules must be small enough to fit in the cup of the patch.
Although the device is intriguing, some challenges need to be addressed before it becomes practical. Measures have been taken to prevent accidental swallowing, such as using dental floss to link the patch to the volunteer’s shirt. However, the risk still needs to be thoroughly explored. Furthermore, the authors used a permeation enhancer in conjunction with the patch, which may mask the true benefits of using the device.
In conclusion, this new device inspired by octopus suckers represents a significant breakthrough in drug delivery technology. The potential for a needle-free and pill-free drug administration method could greatly improve patient comfort and compliance. Further research and development will shed light on the device’s long-term effectiveness and safety, as well as its compatibility with a wider range of drugs.
– Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/sucker-inspired-drug-patch.html
– Science Translational Medicine: https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/13/615/eabe7345