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New Generation - Medicinal Products

Medicinal product is always the result of a subtle marriage between a compound (the active substance which treats a patient) and an appropriate excipient// (a neutral substance in which the active substance is incorporated so that it can be absorbed by the body). Thus the necessary tablet, capsule or syrup is obtained. But what would happen if biodegradable materials were used instead of these neutral excipients? This was already possible with some active substances, and can now be applied to many others!

The team led by Didier Bourissou in the Laboratory for Fundamental and Applied Heterochemistry (CNRS/University Toulouse 3), has indeed managed to develop a novel synthetic process for these materials, which significantly increases their diversity.

Some biodegradable polymers such as polyesters have already been employed as excipients in pharmacology. But this was only possible when they were mixed with certain active substances such as anticancer drugs or growth hormones. And in the field of surgery, the secret of absorbable sutures does indeed reside in the use of these same polyesters.

What are the principles underlying these "new generation" drugs? The biodegradable excipient containing the active substance can take the form of an implant – a 1 cm-long rod about one millimeter in diameter – which is inserted just under the skin. This procedure is performed by a doctor and only takes a few minutes. The specificity of these polyesters is that they can be hydrolyzed; in other words, broken down by water, which is unlucky for them, as our bodies are full of this substance. Thus the excipient gradually breaks down, over a week, a month or three months, depending on its type, releasing the active substance it contains.

Hence the major advantage of the technique: biodegradable excipients enable the controlled administration of sustained-release drugs. This is of considerable benefit in the setting of chronic diseases, a
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