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Replacing injections with pills?

A new paper explores a better way of delivering medications that does not require injections but could be as easy as swallowing a pill.

Coauthor Dr Christine Beeton said: “We explored the possibility of using the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri as a novel oral drug delivery platform to treat rheumatoid arthritis in an animal model.”

Previous work from the Beeton lab shows that a peptide, or short protein, derived from sea anemone toxin effectively and safely reduces disease severity in rat models of rheumatoid arthritis and patients with plaque psoriasis.

However, peptide treatment requires repeated injections, reducing patient compliance, and direct oral delivery of the peptide has low efficacy.

Beeton joined forces with Dr Robert A Britton, a Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, who has developed the tools to genetically modify probiotic bacteria to produce and release compounds. The team bioengineered the probiotic L. reuteri to secrete peptide ShK-235 derived from sea anemone toxin.

Daily delivery of these peptide-secreting bacteria dramatically reduced clinical signs of disease.

The findings provide an alternative delivery strategy for peptide-based drugs and suggest that such techniques and principles can be applied to a broader range of drugs and the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

Image credit / iStock

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