MIT Researchers Invented Long-Acting Drug For Possible Malaria, HIV, TB Cure

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women's Hospital created a star-shaped capsule that stays in the stomach for up to two weeks after being swallowed, gradually releasing its payload.  The capsule delivers an anti-parasitic drug called ivermectin, which they believe could help fight malaria.  This breakthrough could also help treat other diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis and Alzheimer's.

The Capsule Delivers Treatment For At Least 7 Days

In the study, the researchers used a capsule about the size of a fish-oil supplement containing polymers and other materials mixed with ivermectin - a medication which is used to interrupt the spread of malaria and other parasites.  Once it reaches the stomach, the capsule unfolds into a six-sided star - a design which keeps it from being digested.   "When the star opens up inside the stomach, it stays inside the stomach for the duration that you need," said Tyler Grant, another researcher on the project.

C. Giovanni Traverso, MB BChir, PhD, a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School and lead author of the research said: "The team attempted many approaches and tested a range of shapes including the star and hexagon shown in our paper in Science Translational Medicine.  The optimal shape and configuration of the dosage form was selected based on its performance based on ease of encapsulation, manufacturability, gastric stability and drug release properties."

Clinical Trials May Start By Mid 2017, Researchers Say

Model of the drug was used to deliver ivermectin along with anti-malaria treatments to 70 percent of the population, and malaria transmission could be cut by as much as it would have been if 90 percent had been treated with anti-malaria treatments alone. 

The researchers said they hope to start clinical trials in the middle of 2017 and that they are interested in continuing to develop the drug delivery system so that it can slowly release the drug for one month or longer. 

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