The study is online and slated for publication in an upcoming edition of Carbohydrate Polymers.
"For example, adipic acid, a natural acid present in sugar cane, can be attached to cellulose acetate to make an adipate ester," said Edgar. "Cellulose acetate is already used in many medicines that people take today; it controls the rate of release of the drug." The researchers figured out how to make omega-carboxyesters that keep different kinds of medicines dispersed and prevent them from crystallizing in other words, creating pills with higher bioavailability.
"No polymers work in every drug formulation, but these are some of the most broadly effective bioavailability enhancement polymers we've seen." said Edgar. "We have already found that they enhance the stability and solubility of three HIV drugs, a pain reliever, two antibiotics, and five flavonoids, which are potent drug-like molecules that occur naturally in nuts, fruits, and vegetables."
The final neat trick, after creating a polymer that binds the medicines so they cannot crystallize, is to make sure that polymer also knows when to let go.
"The small intestine is where many medicines have the best chance to enter the bloodstream," said Taylor, "so often the ideal polymer will hang onto the drug through the acidic environment of the stomach, and then release the medicine in the benign environment of the small intestine."
Cellulose adipate esters and their cousin omega-carboxyester, cellulose acetate suberate, are no more complicated to make than those in adhesive tape and other inexpensive products, except that they are made with a different set of natural acids.
"Most of the cellulose omega-carboxyester just passes through the body unchanged and unabsorbed. If any of it breaks down i
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