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More Intestinal Cells Can Absorb Larger Particles

August 9, 2013
Safe passage

Microspheres (red) permeate the intestinal lining (green) on their way to the bloodstream in this image taken with a two-photon microscope. Eventually, microspheres could carry medication to targeted sites within the body. Credit: Mathiowitz lab/Brown University

A new study reports that the small intestine uses more cells than scientists had realized to absorb microspheres large enough to contain therapeutic protein drugs, such as insulin. These findings are potentially good news for developing a means for oral delivery of such drugs. Graduate student in Biomedical Engineering, Yu-Ting Dingle, along with others at Brown, authored this report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Data from these studies challenge current dogma in the area of oral drug delivery,” wrote the scientists including lead authors Joshua Reineke, a Brown graduate now a professor at Wayne State, and Daniel Cho, a student in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

With this new insight — especially if it can be expanded, replicated, and shown in people — drug designers could consider targeting future biodegradable drug-containing microspheres to reach enterocytes in addition to M cells, said corresponding author Edith Mathiowitz, professor of medical science and engineering at Brown.

Read more of David Orenstein's story on the small intestine.