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New technology may prevent vitamin B12 deficient seniors and vegetarians from needing injections

TORONTO, Canada (June 17, 2008) For those patients who receive the nearly 40 million intramuscular injections per year to treat their B12 deficiency, a new oral option may soon exist.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a wide spectrum of conditions, such as anemia, dementia and reduced cognitive functioning. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a significant health issue. Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population is B12 deficient (Tufts University, Boston). This includes a sizable number of patients who are severely deficient and are currently being treated. Further, a vast number of people are completely unaware they are B12 deficient and will eventually need treatment. Seniors and strict vegetarians are most at risk. Symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss can occur in those who are deficient.

Currently, physicians rely on B12 shots for people with vitamin B12 deficiency because of the poor bioavailability of oral formulations. Past studies have shown that only approximately one percent of a vitamin B12 tablet gets absorbed in the bloodstream after traveling through the digestive track. Because so much of the vitamin is wasted, alternatives to effectively treat or protect against B12 deficiency are needed.

"Vitamin B12 is a perfect example of the successful application of our eligen technology," said Cristina Castelli, Ph. D., AAPS expert and lead researcher at Emisphere Technologies, Inc. "Our current studies have shown our oral solid formulation brings vitamin B12 absorption to a range of 7-30% without the discomfort of an invasive route of administration."

Ms. Castelli and other project researchers will be at the AAPS National Biotechnology Conference to present and discuss their research with hundreds of pharmaceutical scientists from countries around the world.

Animal testing has been completed and researchers are now conducting human studies.


Contact: Amanda Rich
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

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