Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Algae-powered Delivery

Using algae to deliver drugs to the gut

08 January 2022

Algae-powered Delivery

When you think of algae, you probably imagine an image of sludgy green puddles floating on the surface of a pond or lake. But what about helping to deliver medicine? To treat gastrointestinal diseases, the best way is to deliver medicine direct to the source. Yet many of these orally delivered drugs don’t work efficiently. Researchers tested an innovative delivery system in the form of microalgae called Spirulina plantesis (SP). The chlorophyll in the algae emits red fluorescence allowing researchers to track it through the body. These images shows the journey of SP through the gut of a mouse over time, where yellow indicates lower levels of SP and red shows higher levels. Starting through the stomach and moving slowly downwards through the intestines, SP is still present and delivering drugs eight hours after administration overcoming many barriers and proving to be an exciting potential way to improve treatments.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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