Scientists Create a Novel Suction Cup Device To Deliver Peptide-Based Drugs

In Education

A novel suction cup device created by ETH Zurich researchers may replace traditional injections for patients using peptide-based drugs. This device administers large-molecule medications, such as peptides, directly into the bloodstream through the inner cheek lining.

Peptide drugs used in addressing prostate cancer, obesity and diabetes

Numerous crucial drugs fall into the peptide category, used to address conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and prostate cancer. However, because their size, the molecules are not suitable for oral administration as they can either degrade in the digestive system or fail to reach the bloodstream, necessitating the use of injections.

According to the Chair of Drug Formulation & Delivery Nevena Paunović, the innovative medication delivery method may alleviate the fear and pain of injections. Paunović, a recipient of ETH Zurich’s Pioneer Fellowships, intends to introduce a suction cup to the market via the startup Transire Bio.

The device’s unique function involves using a suction cup to create a vacuum on the inner cheek’s mucosal lining, which is usually difficult for drug delivery due to its dense tissue. This vacuum stretches the lining, making it more receptive to the drug held in the cup. However, additional measures are needed to facilitate the drug’s journey to the blood vessels.

Natural substances added to the drug to enhance penetration

The team has improved drug penetration by adding a natural substance to enhance cell membrane fluidity. Patients using a suction cup for a few minutes dissolve the medication in saliva, allowing easy absorption into the bloodstream through the mucosal lining.

Zhi Luo, a former postdoc at ETH Zurich, got the idea for this invention while casually dining with a peppercorn stick in his mouth. He wondered how medications could stay in place on slippery surfaces. The journey to create a working model faced challenges, including determining the right shape for a suction cup, tested on pig cheek linings for safety and efficiency. The prototype has been tested successfully on dogs.

The suction cup effectively administered medications to dogs’ bloodstreams, according to Klein Cerrejon. Initial trials involving 40 human participants have shown positive results.

Mobile Sliding Menu