Innovative suction cup device could soon replace drug injections

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ZURICH, Switzerland — Conventional injections may quickly grow to be a factor of the previous for sufferers taking peptide-based drugs. ETH Zurich researchers have developed a suction cup gadget designed to ship large-molecule drugs, like peptides, instantly into the bloodstream via the internal lining of the cheek.

Many important drugs at present belong to the peptide class, utilized for treating situations like diabetes, obesity, and prostate cancer. Because of their dimension, these molecules are unsuitable for sufferers to soak up tablet kind; they both break down within the digestive system or can’t attain the bloodstream. Consequently, sufferers must resort to receiving a shot.

The ETH Zurich group’s gadget guarantees a shift on this paradigm.

“It’s a completely new technique of delivering drugs that would spare tens of millions of individuals the worry and ache related to injections,” says Nevena Paunović, from the Chair of Drug Formulation & Supply, in a media release.

Paunović, who was honored with ETH Zurich’s Pioneer Fellowships, is aiming to deliver the suction cup to market via the start-up Transire Bio.

The precept behind the gadget’s operate is intriguing. Usually, the inner cheek’s mucosal lining has been difficult for drug supply attributable to its dense tissue, particularly for giant molecules. The suction cup, roughly 10mm in diameter and 6mm tall, when pressed towards the cheek lining, creates a vacuum. This motion stretches the liner, making it receptive to the drug held within the cup. Nevertheless, the drug’s journey to the blood vessels requires an added push.

To make sure the drug penetrates deeper tissue layers, the group has integrated an endogenous agent (a naturally occurring substance within the physique) to make the cell membranes extra fluid. When sufferers hold the suction cup in place for a number of minutes, the medicine dissolves of their saliva, making its method effortlessly into the bloodstream via the now accessible mucosal lining.

drug delivery suction cup diagram
(Illustration: Luo Z et al. 2023, edited)

The inception of this invention has a light-hearted starting. Zhi Luo, a former postdoc at ETH Zurich, had a peppercorn stick inside his mouth throughout dinner, sparking the thought of how drugs could possibly be saved stationary on slippery surfaces. The journey from this concept to a working mannequin wasn’t with out challenges. David Klein Cerrejon, one other key researcher, notes that figuring out the suction cup’s correct shape was pivotal. The group carried out exams on pig cheek linings to make sure the design can be secure and environment friendly.

The prototype has been efficiently trialed on canine.

“We may see from the blood samples that the suction cup effectively delivered drugs to the canine’ bloodstreams,” says Klein Cerrejon.

Preliminary exams on 40 human contributors have additionally been promising, with most preferring this new system over traditional injections.

Because the group approaches market launch, they’re gearing up for additional exams and regulatory compliance checks. Given the peptide market’s immense worth, a number of pharmaceutical giants have already proven curiosity on this game-changing expertise.

The examine is revealed within the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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