Oil and hydrogel mix effective for precise dosing of medicine

Researchers have developed a new mixture of oil and hydrogel that releases drugs in a controlled fashion, preventing overdosing.

Hydrogel and oil

Researchers have developed a new formulation and technique for the extended and precise dosing of medicines, using a mixture of hydrogel and oil. According to the scientists, using this mixture can allow medicinal substances to be continuously administered as the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) inside the active droplets are gradually released, reducing the risk of overdosing. 

The researchers, from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany, were investigating the origins of life and wanted to find out how the first molecules united and the precursors to initial living cells formed, when they realised another application from their findings. 

“In this research, we experimented with oil droplets, among other things. The droplets are poorly soluble in water and therefore very stable. Inside, molecules can form complex structures – the oil protects these molecules by keeping water away from them,” said Professor Job Boekhoven, the lead researcher. 

However, the oily protective shield is not completely impermeable: individual molecules react with the surrounding water. Through this hydrolysis, the droplets slowly but continuously become smaller until at some point they completely disappeared. “Observing these active droplets that molecules release into the water gave us the idea of ​​using them for drug dosing,” Boekhoven explained.

As the ingredients of medicines are usually released quickly, the effects do not last long in patients. Therefore, there is a risk of overdosing and later a risk of underdosing.

“With the help of the hydrolysable oil droplets, continuous dosing is very easy to implement,” said Boekhoven. “You only need three components: the oil droplets, the API and a hydrogel that stabilises the position of the droplets.”

The team explain that hydrolysis breaks down the droplets and releases the API at the same rate. The dose can be adjusted via the concentration of the API in the droplets which will remain the same until the droplets are completely broken down.

A patent has been filed for the oil hydrogel material.

The study was published in Materials Horizons