What are Drug Delivery Systems?
A drug delivery system is an engineered technology used for targeted delivery and/or controlled release of therapeutic agents. These systems control the release rate of a drug. They also help deliver the medication to the right location in the body.
The procedure of drug delivery has undergone a dramatic change over the past few decades. As our understanding of the subject increases, we can expect even greater changes in the future. We have witnessed substantial contribution by biomedical engineers to our understanding of the physiological barriers to efficient drug delivery. The biggest hurdles have been transportation in the circulatory system and drug movement through tissues and cells. These efforts have contributed to the development of several new modes of drug delivery that have entered mainstream clinical practices.
Despite all these advancements, many drugs, even those discovered using advanced molecular strategies, have unacceptable side effects due to the drug interacting with healthy tissues which are not part of the intended target area. These side effects are the reason we are unable to design optimal medications for many indications such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases.
Innovations in Psychedelic Drug Delivery Systems
Oral Film Technology
Revive Therapeutics is currently working to develop a Psilocybin Oral Thin-film Product. Through its research partnership with the Reed Research Group based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the company is looking to develop its tannin-chitosan composite of orally dissolvable thin films that offers a unique delivery platform for therapeutic doses (1-20mg) of psilocybin into the oral cavity. The film strip can be used in FDA human clinical studies and for medical use in states where psilocybin therapy use is permitted.
There are several advantages and benefits of an orally dissolvable psilocybin thin film:
- Rapid dissolving and onset of action to the bloodstream
- Ease and convenience for patients to administer without the need of water, chewing or swallowing
- Potential of improved therapeutic outcomes and efficacy for underserved diseases and disorders including the flexibility to create accurate dosing options
Revive’s delivery technology is a natural, non-toxic, biodegradable, and biocompatible composite. The system combines a tannin material, derived from a plant group having antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and wound healing properties, and a chitosan material, which is derived from the crustacean group having blood-clotting and antimicrobial properties. The delivery technology has a rapid onset of action and controlled/sustained release potential capabilities. This allows combining multiple extracts from mushrooms in one formulation. Apart from psilocybin, The company hopes that its product can deliver other psychedelic-based medicines.
Revive Therapeutics is not the only company working on a film-based drug delivery system. Truffle Report has previously covered Cybin Inc.’s development of sublingual films. IntelGenx and ATAI Life Sciences have also announced a partnership to develop polymeric film technologies for the targeted delivery of psychedelic drug treatments. The company believes its technology has the potential for faster onset of action, better bioavailability, and enhanced compliance. This is particularly beneficial for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets and pills.
Microneedle Delivery System
Pharmather, a specialty life sciences company, is focusing its efforts on developing and commercializing a microneedle delivery technology. It has an exclusive license agreement with BioRAE for the development of a novel gelatin methacryloyl microneedle (“GelMA-MN”) delivery technology. The technology is designed for use with psychedelics, such as psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD, as well as cannabinoids.
The delivery system is biocompatible and biodegradable, efficiently penetrating the outer layer of the skin. This enables flexible drug load capacity and combinations and allows for control-release delivery. Early trials show that the system has been able to deliver both water-soluble and insoluble drugs with desirable release profiles. Further, it enables transdermal applications of drugs, as well as through other organs such as the nose and eyes, while being minimally invasive.
This delivery system can help overcome the potential drawbacks of oral administration, subcutaneous injections, and other transdermal delivery systems. Pharmather hopes that its delivery technology will open up new market opportunities in multi-billion dollar categories such as mental health, nervous system disorders, pain, skin cancer, wounds, mucosal diseases and surgical applications.
Infusion Pump Systems
Entheon Biomedical, which recently listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange, is working to develop and commercialize a DMT delivery system. Its system will slowly pump the DMT into patients and thereafter, measure their vital signs to ensure high efficacy. The equipment uses a proprietary interface to connect the container of DMT-based solution to a special intravenous pump. Furthermore, the pump will be able to deliver the DMT products according to the patient’s particular dosage specs.
Additionally, the system will include sensors to monitor the patients’ brain activity, along with heart rate, temperature, and other vital signs. This will ensure that they are responding as expected to the treatment.
It aims to integrate its intravenous infusion technology with real-time monitoring devices, including electroencephalography. Unlike other psychedelic experiences, if the patient has an adverse reaction, the DMT delivery system will allow the experience to be stopped safely and quickly without the need for sedatives or other drug interventions. The DMT delivery system will also allow for the attending physician to make manual inputs and adjustments.
The Bottom Line
Even as researchers continue to develop newer and more reliable methods for delivering treatment to targeted cells, further engineering is still required to ensure that such medications reach the correct structures inside the cells. Future delivery techniques will incorporate smart delivery methods that can not only bypass cellular defense mechanisms but also transport drugs to targeted intracellular locations.
Going forward, we can expect to see many more innovative drug delivery systems which will help make psychedelic drug administration a smoother and more efficient process for both, medical practitioners as well as for patients.
Former Analyst at Citi's Investment Banking division where I was responsible for covering a variety of sectors including healthcare, consumer, technology, aviation & logistics. My interest lies in profiling and evaluating companies that are operating in new-age industries with huge potential. The psychedelics market presents a tremendous opportunity and is increasingly garnering the interest of investors. There is sufficient literature investigating the therapeutic effects of psychedelics in the treatment of a variety of mental illnesses. I'm here to help you navigate through the Canadian listed players operating in this space. I will look to highlight the strengths of different players and differentiation in R&D, which is crucial for successfully driving the drug development process.