Chemical Engineering in Medicine
Drugs in most cases are delivered to patients by mouth or injection. Working collaboratively for the purpose of increasing both the effectiveness and safety of drug delivery, chemical together with biomedical engineers have come up with numerous enhanced delivery methods. These novel techniques also offer the additional value of enhanced comfort and expediency for the patient. Some of the early techniques of drug delivery utilizing the chemical engineering principles include: Nasal spray used for delivering finely atomized quantity of drug through inhalation; Transdermal patches utilized in delivering controlled doses through a patient’s skin; controlled release capsules as well as wafers utilized in delivering drugs over a long time. This paper therefore discusses about how Chemical engineering has improved the drug delivery methods.
Improved Drug Delivery methods
Regardless of the numerous wonders that they work, modern drugs still have limitations. A drug sometimes does not reach its target organ. For instance, the blood brain barrier may prevent numerous substances within the bloodstream from reaching the brain. Or it may be hard to attain the required level of the drug in the blood. Since most drugs are metabolized by the body system, a large dosage may be required for the purpose of ensuring that there is an efficient concentration within the bloodstream to attain the desired action. However these large dosages may result in serious side effects. Some drugs are normally metabolized very quickly, lasting for very short periods in the body. These kinds of drugs are always given by infusion or in repeated doses, and as a result can be difficult to take (National Academy Press 39). To address these issues, the chemical engineers have come up with new drug delivery techniques and systems. For instance, a pill has been designed in such a way that it has a plastic coating in which a laser has made one perforation. When the pill is taken by a patient, fluid flows through the coating, and the drug is forced out through the perforation at a precise and steady rate. This system is currently being utilized in delivering a powerful heart medication, maintaining the blood concentration at a low and constant level and shunning the side effects. Another enhanced oral technique has a new design for the delivery of antiasthma drug theophylline; microcapsules of the drug are embedded in a degradable plastic matrix that helps in breaking down and releasing the drug as a constant rate, and also reducing the side effects (National Academy Press 40).
Currently, targeted drug delivery techniques are a significant area for chemical engineers. They are currently designing novel vehicles that are being used in delivering drugs to the targeted organs, tumor, and even the tissues of the human body. The drug load is can then be released in response to either an inner or outer trigger and in the required quantity at the site. These kinds of delivery systems have the benefit of being capable of reducing or delaying premature degradation of drug the moment it goes into the body, maximizing the capability of a drug to move through the body to the targeted site without having any effect on the healthy body tissues and organs, minimizing the total amount of the drug that should be given, and reducing the side effects that normally result when health tissues and organs have been exposed to a drug (Ranade & John 116). While these innovative drug delivery techniques were some time back considered as aspects of science fiction, currently an increasing number of workable technological techniques have been demonstrated and are moving within human medical trials. Such amazing drug delivery devices are of particular significance for prescription of medicines and chemotherapeutic drugs that move within the body, and have dose limiting harmfulness and may result in unwanted side effects for a patient at high exposure. Substantial work is ongoing for the purpose of functionalizing the drug carrying particles to maximize circulation period in the body by making them appear invisible to the macrophages which are accountable for the removal of foreign materials from the blood to move more easily within the body and as a result enhance their preferential acceptance by diseased cells and minimize the poisonous effect that normally occur with less targeted delivery (ValletRegi, et al 308).
Traditionally, injectable, continued-release, progressive drug delivery devices have relied on the encapsulation of a medicinal product using things like biodegradable polymeric microspheres. Another technique is the entrapment of drugs within hydrogel polymer matrix or the polymeric dendrimers. The principles of chemical engineering that is linked to polymer processing, diffusion as well as other mass movement occurrences have played a significant role in designing, developing, manufacturing and utilization of the novel drug delivery systems based on the biocompatible as well as the biodegradable polymers (Vogelsen 50). The discharge of medicine from the polymer devices has been diffusion administered. However at present, research by the chemical engineers is intended to investigate biodegradable polymer systems. These drug delivery systems degrade into compounds that are organically accepted usually through a process known as hydrolysis, which afterward leaves their incorporated medicine behind. This erosion process normally occurs in whole or at the surface of the polymer. The process of degradation usually involves the breaking down of polymers into lactic and glycolic acids. These are then reduced, through the Kreb’s cycle to CO2 and water which can be easily expelled by the body (Vogelsen 51). Apart from the research by the chemical engineers concerning the delivery systems that are composed of single polymeric systems, they are investigating the elements of block polymers. Other significant research concerning polymer matrixes as drug deliverer systems have also been investigated. For instance there is a technique that employs conducting electro-active polymers as a medium detecting bioactive particle discharging system (Ranade & John 117).
As discussed above, this paper, explains how Chemical engineering has improved the drug delivery methods. The key aim of all the modern day drug delivery techniques therefore is to deploy drug intact to particularly targeted body organs and tissues through a medium that has the capability of controlling the treatment’s management through physiological and chemical trigger. These kinds of delivery systems have the benefit of being capable of reducing or delaying premature degradation of drug the moment it goes into the body, maximizing the capability of a drug to move through the body to the targeted site without having any effect on the healthy body tissues and organs, minimizing the total amount of the drug that should be given, and reducing the side effects that normally result when health tissues and organs have been exposed to a drug. With the present, development, to become a good chemical engineer specialized in medicine; it is significant to get acquainted with the principles of chemical engineering that is linked to polymer processing, diffusion as well as other mass movement occurrences. This is because these areas have played a significant role in designing, developing, manufacturing and utilization of the novel drug delivery systems based on the biocompatible as well as the biodegradable polymers.
National Academy Press. Critical Technologies: The Role of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press, 1992. Print.
Ranade, Vasant V, and John B. Cannon. Drug Delivery Systems. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011. Print.
Vogelson, Cullen T. “Advances in drug delivery systems.” Mod Drug Discov 4.4 (2001): 49-52. Print.
ValletRegi, M., et al. “A new property of MCM-41: drug delivery system.” Chemistry of materials 13.2 (2001): 308-311. Print.