The best medicines in the world cannot do much if the patients who need them do not take them as prescribed. This problem is particularly serious in rural areas where attempts to eliminate malaria are at work. One key drug, ivermectin, is excellent at killing off mosquitoes that feed on the blood of people taking it and can effectively create a firewall against malaria if everyone in an area is on it. The trouble is that ivermectin has an 18 hour half life in the body and needs to be taken daily by everyone for it to be effective at controlling malaria's movements. A solution has been badly needed and now a team is revealing that they have found one.
The researchers behind the new work have developed an oral, ultra–long-acting capsule that dissolves in the stomach and deploys a star-shaped structure that slowly releases ivermectin while assuming a position in the digestive tract that prevents it from passing into the intestines while still allowing food to get by. In tests run on pigs, the team found that the specially designed structures were able to release mosquito killing doses of ivermectin for two weeks at a time. Moreover, they suspect that with further engineering they can extend their drug release period to be several months. Furthermore, they suggest that there is a real potential for other drugs to be housed in their devices that could help medicate patients suffering from diseases that impair their ability to take drugs in the first place (like diabetes and Alzheimer's). You can read more in The Economist article that I wrote on this here.
You can read more in The Economist article that I wrote on this here.