The latest drug delivery methods use slow-release materials that gradually dispense treatments inside the body. Hydrogels are good candidates for this approach: soft materials that can be swallowed in a dehydrated form but swell up in the stomach and slowly release drugs over a long period of time. But the stomach is a tough place to be, with high levels of acidity and constant churning, and many hydrogels quickly break down under these conditions. The material shown here, squeezed into a balloon by a researcher’s hand, is a new alternative. It’s tougher than other hydrogels, so it can withstand the harsh environment of the stomach, yet can be easily triggered to break down completely if something goes wrong and it needs removing quickly. Tests have shown that the new hydrogel can stay in the stomach of a pig for at least a week, proving its potential for further development.
Written by Kat Arney
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