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Peppas Receives Major NIH Grant for Oral Protein Delivery Studies

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    Nicholas Peppas

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.8 million four-year grant to Professor Nicholas Peppas for his latest work on new systems of oral delivery of proteinic drugs and therapeutic agents.

The grant is a continuation of his group’s studies on the fundamental understanding of transmucosal delivery of drugs, peptides, and proteins using a series of novel biopolymeric complexation carriers with unique properties. This research seeks to develop advanced controlled release systems for therapeutic proteins such as calcitonin, interferon-beta, and growth hormone.

Before Peppas’ work, it was generally believed that peptides and proteins such as insulin could not be administered orally because of their degradation by the proteolytic enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and their extremely low transport rate across the mucosal membrane. The design of successful oral delivery systems for protein drugs will lead to the development of new therapeutics with increased patient compliance and efficacy.

Peppas’ group has developed a new class of polymeric hydrogels comprised of poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) chains grafted on various backbone chains that have shown extreme promise as oral delivery vehicles for insulin, calcitonin, and growth hormone. Prior studies have established that these systems are promising candidates for oral delivery of insulin. Peppas’ more recent work and attention now focus on continued strategies for enhancing the bioavailability of other orally delivered proteins. It is believed that the novel hydrogel carriers will protect the protein drugs in the gastrointestinal tract and enhance transport of the drugs into the bloodstream.