Optimal healthcare outcomes often rely on adherence to recommended treatment regimens. Nonadherence is a threat to health and wellness, yet patient compliance is estimated to be approximately 50% in developed countries and even lower in the developing world. This carry a massive economic burden, and in USA alone economists estimate it to costs over $100 billion per year. To tackle this problem, scientists have been trying to develop extended drug release technology for over 30 years. Finding new and innovative solutions to extend delivery beyond the 12 to 24 hours of current oral formulations on the market could play an important role in the treatment of many diseases.
The Cambridge, MA-based startup Lyndra, comprised of MIT and Harvard scientists, has developed a technology that extends oral drug delivery beyond one week. The release formulation uses FDA-approved and inexpensive materials, that allow for the development of orally delivered capsules that can release drugs over a number of days, weeks, or potentially months following a single administration. The created polymer gel, that is elastic and can be folded into a capsule, is pH-responsive and stable in the acidic stomach environment. However, it dissolves in the small intestine’s near-neutral pH, allowing it to safely pass through the remainder of the gastrointestinal tract. In over 150 pig experiments, the technology has not shown any adverse events, no clinically apparent symptoms, and no visible mucosal injury on endoscopic evaluations.
The innovative new technology has a huge potential to improve adherence, improving pharmacokinetic profiles, and at the same time decrease potential of antibiotic resistance. The technology could even give better access to care, for example in rural areas, and a single-administration delivery system could benefit treatment of malaria and other diseases that often requires multiple drugs over long periods. The effect this could have on millions of people worldwide, and their everyday life, is staggering, and the technology is likely to significantly reduce billions of dollars each year associated with medication nonadherence.
Lyndra was founded by Robert Langer, Giovanni Traverso and Amy Schulman, and they are currently collaborating with leading pharmaceutical partners to develop extended release formulations of their products. The startup recently received $5.4 million in funding according to a regulatory filing, and the research behind the technology has been funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.