Researchers have long been trying to develop a solid pill that can deliver biopharmaceuticals and vaccines in a target specific and time controlled way. However, due to the acidic environment of the stomach degrading the vaccines, it has not been possible to effectively deliver drugs to the intestine, where they are most effective.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a new smart microencapsulation system programmed to actively respond an environmental change in pH.1 These capsules use a unique phenomenon of pore closure and opening in order to protect ingredients from external harsh environments in the stomach and release them under the desired conditions in the intestine. Also, the pH-responding pored microcapsules can be used to develop oral vaccines (e.g., rabies vaccine) and biopharmaceutical formulations for mouth targeted delivery and intranasal drug delivery.
These new encapsulation systems also overcome multiple technical limitations such as low encapsulation efficiency, incomplete protection of the ingredients, inefficient response to stimuli and incomplete release behavior. A new hybrid structure combining the advantages of both solid microparticles and hollow microcapsules with a pH-responsive macropore allows for easy ingredient loading, long-term stability, and the protection and efficient release of ingredients. This is one of the first easy to manufacture orally or intranasally administered capsules suitable for biopharmaceuticals and vaccines for both human and animal health.