A team of Chinese and Swiss scientists have engineered an octopus-inspired suction patch capable of delivering hard-to-absorb drugs via the inner lining of cheeks, offering a simple and less invasive alternative for protein drugs that can currently only be given inconveniently, such as through injections.
Inspired by the unique structural features of octopus suckers, the researchers from Southern University of Science and Technology in China and ETH Zurich designed a self-appliable suction patch that enables strong adhesion to mucosal tissue in the mouth.
They loaded it with the approved drug desmopressin and administered it to dogs. The suction patch, combined with permeation enhancers, stayed attached to the dogs’ oral mucosa for 3 hours without coming loose or causing irritation.
The result achieved bioavailability up to two orders of magnitude higher than that of a commercial tablet formulation of a peptide drug known for its poor oral absorption, according to the study published recently in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers also conducted the first in-human study. They had 40 healthy volunteers self-apply the patch without drugs for 30 minutes while they talked, walked, and rinsed their mouths.
Most of the patches stayed on throughout the study, and the majority of patients reported afterwards that they would prefer the patch to injections for daily, weekly, or monthly drug treatments, according to the study.
The study added, however, that more work is needed to determine the safety of repeated treatments using this patch.