IDUN, new Center of Excellence, to improve efficiency of oral drug delivery

Monday 13 Apr 15

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Anja Boisen
Head of Sections, Professor
DTU Health Tech
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The inauguration of the new Center of Excellence, IDUN, marks the start of new research into drug delivery involving nano- and micro-capsules. The objective is to identify methods for delivering highly soluble medicine to the bodies of people suffering from HIV, diabetes and intestinal illnesses, for example.

In the presence of representatives from the private business community, boards of directors, universities and foundations, DTU’s new Center of Excellence,IDUN, was officially opened on Friday, 10 April 2015.

Over the coming six years, the centre—whose official title is ‘Intelligent oral Drug delivery Using Nano and microfabricated containers’—will receive funding of up to DKK 56 million from The Danish National Research Foundation to conduct research into drug delivery involving nano- and micro-capsules. The ultimate aim is to make it easier for people suffering from diabetes, HIV, and intestinal illnesses, for example, to take medicine that is often highly soluble and/or too readily degradable.

Our aim is to design micro-capsules
“The new aspect is that we are aiming to design micro-capsules containing the medicine, which patients can swallow as an alternative to receiving injections. In addition to being tiny, the capsules must also feature a shape and coating that allows them to reach the intestines and ensures that they attach to the intestinal walls for a sufficient period. If we succeed in making the capsules remain in the intestines for long enough, parts of them will dissolve and release the medicine, which can then enter the bloodstream and make its way around the body,” explains Professor Anja Boisen, Head of Centre at IDUN.

Most patients today prefer taking drugs orally, as this is the easiest and least unpleasant method. There are, however, a number of obstacles to administering medication orally. For example, the medicine is often broken down by the acid environment in the stomach, which is why some medicine must be administered intravenously.

Minute toolboxes
Under the leadership of Professor Anja Boisen, the centre is to design what are known as ‘containers’ measuring just a few micrometres, and thus improve the efficiency of oral drug delivery. The ‘containers’ are to function as minute toolboxes featuring internal compartments for bio-active substances.

Over the coming years, Anja Boisen will be investigating and testing the limits of what is physically possible, backed by a team comprising 20 researchers, PhD students, and postdocs from DTU and the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen. The challenges facing the researchers include establishing how to put the medicine into the tiny capsules, how to make the capsules attach to the intestinal walls, and what this actually means for the patients receiving the medication.

IDUN is one of three new Centers of Excellence at DTU in which the Danish National Research Foundation decided to invest DKK 170 million in October 2014. In addition to IDUN, the Danish National Research Foundation has invested in a centre dedicated to ‘Silicon Photonics for Optical Communications’ (SPOC) and the ‘Centre for Hyperpolarization in Magnetic Resonance’. DTU already operates two ‘Centres of Excellence’: the Centre for Nanostructured Graphene (CNG) and the Centre for Individual Nanoparticle Functionality (CINF).

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