21 January 2006

Hydrogel Drug Implants Deliver the Goods

Medgadget has an interesting post about a new medical implant technology developed by New Jersey company Valera.

Valera's Hydron implant technology is a:
subcutaneous drug delivery reservoir, the Hydron Implant has been designed for in-office physician insertion into the patient's upper arm using local anesthesia. The hydrogel polymer compositions possess soft, flexible tissue-like characteristics, providing excellent biocompatibility and patient comfort.

Employing micropores for drug diffusion, the implants are non-biodegradable and are capable of long-term (one year or more), continuous, near zero order release rates determined primarily by specific polymer blends, implant wall attributes and drug solubility.
Because Valera® has the ability to manufacture Hydron Implants to exacting chemical and geometric specifications, the technology is applicable to a broad spectrum of drugs, representing significant prospects for meeting therapeutic needs not addressed by current oral administration, depot injection, short duration implants, and transdermal patch delivery systems.

Here is the story about the human testing of the implant. It was used to suppress premature puberty in young girls.

According to Spitz, the results of the implant testing for puberty were encouraging. Puberty hormones remained suppressed at nine months after implant insertion in all 11 girls, and up to 15 months in six girls who were followed for more than one year after the original implant was inserted. All the girls reported less pain and discomfort, and less interference with school activity and work with the implant than with standard monthly injections, the investigators reported.

According to the Pediatrics report, there was no menstrual bleeding during the implant treatment, and mean breast development regressed somewhat during treatment. The acceleration in bone maturation that would signal an end to growth in height decreased during treatment, as did growth velocity, the report indicated.

"Our results showed there were no half measures. Each and every child experienced complete and full suppression. It was even more effective than monthly injections," said Spitz.

"The advantage of the implant is that it's simple to insert under local anesthesia and causes the complete suppression of the hormones for one year," said Spitz. "It obviates the need for children to come in every month for an injection. With injections, kids who have an overactive pituitary gland sometimes even need to come in two or three times a month. And sometimes, these injections are very painful.

A lot of medical treatments are given over a period of several months or years. Some are even potentially permanent treatments. An implant keeps working, even when the patient forgets all about the medicine or the medical condition. Implant techology improves along with technology for drug, biotech, and nanotech treatments for stubborn and deadly diseases.


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