Health & FitnessScience

Egyptians contribute to the discovery of swallowing pills alternative

While it's common to turn to liquid forms of a given medication if the thought of swallowing pills gives you the willies, UK scientists say they've discovered a gel-based system that's more effective.

Taken with a spoon just like the liquid kind, it delays the release of drugs, thereby maximizing their effect.

Upon reaching the stomach, the gel solidifies, delaying release because drugs are less effective there and can cause irritation, making you feel even worse.

It's the stomach acid, in fact, that causes it to stiffen, say the researchers.

It releases in the intestine instead, where its effect is maximal, according to the research team.

More effective than the liquid version, the drug would provide a solution for medicating children and elderly patients unable to swallow pills.

It's being called gellan gum and the research team has identified a second version of it in the form of a nasal spray.

In this version, muco-adhesive polymers are added to the formula and help retain the medicine in the nose.

A paper was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

Drug delivery methods becoming increasingly unconventional

A team of researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and German University in Cairo, Egypt, has developed tiny robots that resemble sperm and are controlled by oscillating, weak magnetic fields.

The tasks they are designed to perform are actually far from tiny. The discovery is promising for the future of in-vitro fertilization, cell sorting, drug delivery and the cleaning of clogged arteries.

At 322 microns long, they are significantly bigger than mammalian sperm, which measure a measly 55 microns by comparison.

The head is coated in cobalt-nickel, which reacts with force upon exposure to a magnetic field approximately the same strength as that of a refrigerator magnet.

This magnetic torque in the head causes the uncoated tail to swish back and forth, propelling the 'brobot' onwards.

Designers hope to create even smaller versions of the robot in the future. Plans are underway for a nano-sized magnetic flagellum that will improve swimming efficiency.

Despite the catchy nickname, it is officially referred to as the MagnetoSperm microrobot.

A paper on the project was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.


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