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'Caffeine used to create novel gels for drug delivery'

Press Trust of India  |  Boston 

is well-known for its ability to help people stay alert, but scientists have now come up with a novel use for the - creating biocompatible gels for delivery and other

Researchers at (MIT) and Brigham and in the US loaded the gels with two antimalarial drugs.

The material could also be used to carry other types of drugs, said former MIT postdoc Angela DiCiccio, of the research paper published in the journal

Drugs carried by this kind of material could be chewable or easier to swallow, the researchers said.

"It is really appealing for patient populations, especially children, who have difficulty with swallowing capsules and tablets," said Giovanni Traverso, a research affiliate at MIT.

"Making polymer gels usually requires metal catalysts, which could be hazardous if any of the catalyst remains in the material after the is formed.

The MIT team wanted to come up with a new way to make gels using catalysts and starting materials that are based on and other materials that are safe to ingest.

Making polymer gels usually requires metal catalysts, which could be hazardous if any of the catalyst remains in the material after the is formed.

The MIT team wanted to come up with a new way to make gels using catalysts and starting materials that are based on and other materials that are safe to ingest.

"Our goal was to try to simplify the method of and impart an improved safety profile from the beginning by using potentially safer catalysts," Traverso said.

Although has not been used for synthesis before, it drew the researchers' attention because it is plant-derived and can act as a weak base, meaning that it gently removes protons from other molecules.

It also has a similar structure to some other organic weak bases that have been used to catalyse the type of reaction needed to form these gels - the formation of ester bonds to create a polyester.

The researchers decided to use to induce citric acid, another edible material produced by plants, to form a along with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a biocompatible polymer that has been used in drugs and such as toothpaste for many decades.

When mixed with citric acid and PEG, and slightly heated, caffeine opens up an oxygen-containing ring in the PEG, allowing it to react with citric acid to form chains that consist of alternating molecules of PEG and citric acid.

If molecules are present in the mixture, they also become incorporated into the chains.

The researchers showed that they could load two drugs, artesunate and piperaquine, into these polymers. They could also vary the and mechanical properties of the by altering its composition.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 12:10 IST
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