Nanotechnology increases drug efficacy

Dutch scientists find that nanoparticles absorb well into bloodstream

Scientists at Top Institute Pharma in The Netherlands have developed nanotechnology that will help medicines to be absorbed more quickly into the blood and thus be more effective.

Top Institute Pharma is a public-private partnership in which academic institutions and business work together to improve drug development.

Researcher Hans de Waard, who is associated with the University of Groningen, said: ‘Many current medicines are not easily dissolved in the digestive tract, which means that they barely reach the bloodstream. This, in turn, means that the efficacy of medicines is not guaranteed. Since we can now produce nanoparticles of these medicines, they are actually able to dissolve well.’

This research will enable lower doses of medicines such as diazepam (valium), ibuprofen and the cholesterol-reducing drug fenofibrate to be required and will reduce side effects.

De Waard said the study is important for medicines that are taken orally and dissolve poorly in water, which relates to 40% of all medicines currently in development.

‘Certain medicines fail in the development phase, although they might have considerable potential if they were only able to dissolve better,’ he added. ‘Moreover, currently only a small portion of a medicine enters the patient's bloodstream, which means that a doctor has to prescribe a much higher dose that is actually necessary. Such a high dose means that there is an even greater chance of side effects.

This research forms part of a broader project at Top Institute Pharma into greater efficacy of medicines for brain disease. This project's partners include Abbott Healthcare Products, Radboud University Nijmegen, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, University Medical Centre Groningen, the University of Groningen, Leiden University and Utrecht University.