Pill or Injection? - Examining Natural Bio adhesive Polymers for Nanoparticle Drug Delivery
Yimeng Li
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Floor Location : J 142 H

Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the diabetic is unable to regulate their production of insulin from the pancreas, and thus will experience irregular blood sugar levels. Current treatment for diabetes require insulin injections, which is both a stressful and expensive procedure. As a result, many diabetics decide to avoid their required injections, which can ultimately lead to serious complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and amputations. A more approachable way of treatment may be to swallow the insulin packed in a pill which would release a steady supply of the hormone inside the digestive tract. However, insulin is a protein, so the gastric acid and protease enzymes in the stomach would denature the medication, which would ultimately defeat its purpose as a “key”. Therefore, the pill has never been created successfully in a pill.
On the other hand, bio adhesive nanoparticles may serve as a better alternative for insulin injections. Insulin nanoparticles with a bio adhesive coating would allow the medication to stick to the inside mucosal layer of the digestive tract, thus allowing for prolonged drug absorption. The nanoparticles carrying the insulin may then be covered with a final enteric coating, which would protect the pill contents in the stomach and release the nanoparticles in the small intestine where the villi can absorb and pass the insulin into the bloodstream. However, many synthetic bio adhesive polymers create Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) during their synthesization. Therefore, it is more practical to explore and use natural polymers for bio adhesive nanoparticle drug delivery.
The purpose of my study was to synthesize three natural polymer gels and characterize them for their potential bio adhesive qualities. Specifically, gum tragacanth, soluble starch, and methyl cellulose were used as potential candidates. Characteristics such as equilibrium swelling ratio, flexibility, toxicity, in vitro bio adhesion, and enzyme inhibition of the polymers were measured, graphed and analyzed to determine the overall best polymer.
in vitro bio adhesion was measured using the weight method in a 6.8 pH buffer. Modest modifications were made to the initial procedure.The model membrane in which the bio adhesion was measured consisted of a sheet of pressure – sensitive tape soaked in 10% saline for 2 hours. Mechanical adhesion was primarily measured.
Enzyme inhibition was measured by utilizing stained gelatine as a model drug and colour as an indicator of drug release. Polymers were mixed with the gelatine and drug release was measured.
Toxicity was measured on Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell colonies, and cell concentration and alcohol production of the yeast colonies were measured. Concentration was measured by inspecting colonies using a vital cell stain. Potential alcohol production was calculated using specific gravity measurements.
The results of my study showed that Methyl Cellulose, one of the derivatives of cellulose, proved to be the overall best polymer candidate that displayed high solubility, swelling, flexibility, and low toxicity. These characteristics provide a suitable bio adhesive polymer for potential nanoparticle drug delivery in an insulin pill treatment alternative to current injections.