Two-faced pill releases drugs to GI lining with a smooth side

Two-sided pill

U.S. researchers have developed a pill that can slowly release its dose over time while attached to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

The scientists from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital, led in part by lead drug delivery specialist Robert Langer, created the flat pill with two faces--one with a mucoadhesive to stick to the organ lining and the other with an ultrarepellent surface designed to allow food and liquid to pass by without tearing it away from its perch. In the field, this is called a Janus device, after the Roman god with two faces.

The drug would be embedded between the two layers to release over time. In a proof-of-concept experiment, the Janus pill lasted much longer than that with only mucoadhesive surfaces, demonstrating that the smoother side made it less abrasive for passing materials to pull away from the organ lining.

Not only could this allow certain treatments to release slowly in the gut, but it could improve the efficacy and safety of pills in general, keeping them from getting stuck in the esophagus.

Antibiotics are a particular target for this kind of pill, the researchers say, because they require frequent doses. One pill a day would be much more convenient than two or three.

"This could be adapted to many drugs," said lead author Giovanni Traverso. "Any drug that is dosed frequently could be amenable to this kind of system."

- here's the release