Physiology

Easy to Swallow, Hard to Digest

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 669
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.669-a
CREDIT: PHOTOS.COM/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

The physical formulation of medications is a nontrivial consideration in how readily gains in biomedical research can be translated into marketable treatments. Many compounds are designed to enter the body through the digestive tract; hence the residence time in the stomach is important, particularly in devising oral dosage regimens of medicines in the form of pills. Laulicht et al. have used an inexpensive and noninvasive high-resolution tracking method to measure the forces and torques experienced by a magnetic pill as it moved through the gastrointestinal tracts of healthy humans and animals (dogs and rats) in fasting or fed states. Translational and angular velocities and accelerations were computed on the basis of position and orientation data collected at 10 Hz. The gastric emptying force, which propelled the pills into the intestine, was exerted largely by circumferentially oriented muscle fibers in the human stomach, and was similar in fed humans and dogs, but not fasting subjects, indicating that the fed state in dogs may be a good preclinical model. Such dynamic information may help companies shape pills that better target the preferred sites of drug absorption in patients.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107, 10.1073/pnas.1002292107 (2010).

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