Principal investigator: Shu Yang, Randall Kamien

University: University of Pennsylvania

Industry partners: Merck & Co., Inc.

The proposed research will bring together a dynamic and highly collaborative team of theoretical physicists, materials scientists and engineers, and industrial partners to pursue gastroretentive formulations for oral drug delivery. Gastroretentive dosing that can last over a day offers a promising new formulation platform and could potentially enable extended delivery of drugs with limited colonic absorption – drugs can be destroyed in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract due to unwanted food-drug interactions and drug-gut wall interactions. Despite the attempts made in the last few decades to prolong the gastric retention time of medication beyond a few hours, success has been limited. Here, we propose to design and fabricate slinky-like tubular meshes from biodegradable polymer fibers/yarns using conventional textile manufacturing process (weaving or knitting); they will be collapsed and enclosed into a standard sized drug capsule for prolonged gastric retention within the GI tract. The entire package will be deployed and retained in the stomach to gradually release the encapsulated contents over time (from 1 day to 2 weeks). Once the drug is released, the mesh structure will break down in the intestine and pass safely through the digestive tract. We expect our drug depots can last over a day to a few weeks in GI delivery, yet can collapse and exit from the tract on demand. Our design of collapsible tubular meshes will radically alter the paradigm of long-lasting oral drug delivery through geometric designs for controlled and long-lasting release. It will enable us to foster and engage an interdisciplinary yet synergistic approach that will create a significant new opportunity to excite and train the students about science, engineering, design, and their interface with medicine. We will use the research outcome as an effective tool to recruit and train highly motivated and innovative students as the next generation workforce for industrial innovations.