Nanoparticle gut check could help colon cancer, Crohn's

Drug delivery researchers know that it's a long way between the mouth and the gut. So, treatments for colon cancer that are swallowed face many perils before reaching their intended target. There's stomach acidity, sticky mucus layers, "rapid clearance" from the gut and premature uptake by cells higher up the gastrointestinal tract. But swallowing medication for colon cancer, researchers say, produces much better patient compliance than injection or suppository.

A couple of Texas researchers have a suggestion to solving the dilemma: encapsulate a drug molecule with nanoparticles before swallowing. In an article in the International Journal of Nanotechnology, Kevin O'Donnell and Robert Williams III of the Division of Pharmaceutics at the University of Texas at Austin write that nanoparticles offers the best option for controlling drug delivery and targeting the colon.

In the article, "Nanoparticulate systems for oral drug delivery to the colon," the researchers say that smaller particles mean a bigger surface area to interact with absorbing surfaces in the gastrointestinal tract. They say that those suffering from Crohn's disease could especially benefit from nanoparticle drug delivery.

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