Researchers Create Self-Applying Suction Patch to Improve Drug Absorption

Researchers Create Self-Applying Suction Patch to Improve Drug Absorption

Researchers have developed a new platform technology that uses a self-applying suction patch to enhance drug absorption in the body. The technology draws inspiration from the unique structural characteristics of octopus suckers, combining chemical permeation enhancers with mechanical stretching of the buccal mucosa (inside of the mouth) to allow macromolecular drugs to enter the body more quickly.

The noninvasive technology, called suction cup orifice design (SCOD), was created by Zhi Luo, David Klein Cerrejon, and a team of researchers. The SCOD works by compressing and deforming the buccal mucosa, allowing drugs to pass through, and then removing the suction patch. The researchers 3D-printed suction patches that were 1.1 cm in diameter and 0.6 cm high, making them less painful and more user-friendly for patients. These patches were able to hold more than 50 mg of a drug.

In studies, the suction patch was found to significantly improve the bioavailability of peptide drugs, like desmopressin, which are poorly absorbed by the body when taken orally. In fact, the suction patch made the drug up to two orders of magnitude more bioavailable in dogs compared to the commercial tablet form. The technology also showed potential for achieving systemic exposure similar to an approved oral tablet without the need for any additional modifications.

A first-in-human study with 40 healthy individuals confirmed the acceptability and ease of use of the suction patch. This innovative platform technology has the potential to be used for delivering a wide range of chemicals that are not well absorbed by the body or quickly broken down. Moving forward, ensuring long-term safety and patient acceptance will be crucial for its successful translation.

Overall, this self-applying suction patch technology could revolutionize drug delivery by improving the absorption of macromolecular drugs in a noninvasive and patient-friendly manner.


– Bioinspired: Taking inspiration from biological systems to develop new technologies or designs.
– Buccal mucosa: The lining of the inside of the mouth.
– Permeation enhancers: Substances that help increase the permeability of a drug, allowing it to be absorbed more easily.
– Bioavailability: The proportion of a drug that enters the bloodstream and is available for its desired effect.


“Boosting systemic absorption of peptides with a bioinspired buccal-stretching patch” – Science Translational Medicine

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