Novel Drug Delivery: Life Sciences Invention of the Year

A novel drug delivery strategy that uses targeted carriers capable of crossing the gastrointestinal epithelium tied for first place in the University of Maryland's Office of Technology and Commercialization's Invention of the Year competition in the Life Sciences category.

The system, created by Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) assistant professor Silvia Muro and BioE graduate student Rasa Ghaffarian, was one of four chosen for top honors out of a field of over 130 cutting-edge new products invented and patented at the university in 2010.

Oral administration of drugs is preferred over more invasive methods such as intravenous delivery because it is easier, less expensive, and more comfortable for patients. Patients are also more likely to adhere to an oral drug regimen. However, in many cases, only a fraction of the dose swallowed ever reaches its target due to the harsh environment of the digestive system and other anatomical barriers.

Muro and Ghaffarian have created a drug carrier designed to target the cells that form the gastrointestinal epithelium, which lines the digestive tract. The carriers are attracted to a specific molecule found on the surfaces of these cells, as well as other cells that may be affected by disease. Once the carrier is drawn to the outer surface of an epithelial cell, the cell is tempted to absorb it. Nutrients, drugs, or other therapeutic molecules loaded onto the carrier are absorbed as well. The delivery process, which takes advantage of the cells' natural behavior, is safe, fast, and efficient.

In addition to drug delivery, the carrier could also be used to deliver imaging agents, genetic material, biosensors, and other material used in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of disease.

For More Information:

Visit Professor Muro's homepage »

"Targeted Carriers for Drug Delivery Across the Gastrointestinal Epithelium" »

See "University of Maryland Names Its Four Best Inventions of 2010" »

Published April 14, 2011