Drug delivering micromotors can treat bacterial infections in the stomach



For the first time using micromotors researchers treat stomach bacterial infections. These tiny vehicles flow throughout the stomach while counteracting gastric acid and then release their antibiotics at the desired pH.

This new method treating stomach and gastrointestinal diseases with acid-sensitive drugs. The new study represents the drug-delivering micromotors for treating bacterial infection.

Normally, drugs used to treat bacterial infections in the stomach are taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIS), to suppress gastric acid production. But, when taken in high doses, PPIS can cause adverse side-effects, including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. The micromotors neutralize gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without the use of PPIS.

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“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralization with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego.

proton pump inhibitors

Each micromotor consists of a spherical magnesium core, followed by a layer of the antibiotic clarithromycin, and an outer layer of a positively-charged polymer called chitosan that enables the motors to stick to the stomach wall.

This binding enhances propulsion of the micromotors, which is fueled by the stomach’s own acid. The magnesium cores react with gastric acid, and generates a stream of hydrogen microbubbles propel the motors around inside the stomach. This reaction temporarily reduces the acid in the stomach, and increases the pH level to allow the micromotors to release the drug and perform treatment. Generally, the stomach restored pH within 24 hours.

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Researchers tested the micromotors on mice with Helicobacter pylori infections. The micromotors packed with an antibiotic clarithromycin administered orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, they evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found treatment with the micromotors slightly more effective than the same dose of antibiotic given in combination with PPIS.

The micromotors mostly made of biodegradable materials. The magnesium cores and polymer layers dissolved by gastric acid without producing harmful residues.

According to researchers, the research is still at an early stage. The team planning future studies to evaluate the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in vivo and compared with other standard therapies against stomach diseases.

More information: [nature]