Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated, for the first time, the use of micromotors to treat a bacterial infection in the stomach. These tiny vehicles, each about half the width of a human hair, move rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralizing gastric acid, and then release their cargo of antibiotics at the desired pH. The researchers published their findings on August 16, 2017 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “Micromotor-Enabled Active Drug Delivery for In Vivo Treatment of Stomach Infection.” This micromotor-enabled delivery approach is a promising new method for treating stomach and gastrointestinal tract diseases with acid-sensitive drugs, researchers said. The effort is a collaboration between the research groups of nanoengineering professors Joseph Wang (photo) and Liangfang Zhang at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Dr. Wang and Dr. Zhang pioneered research on the in vivo operation of micromotors and this study represents the first example of drug-delivering micromotors for treating bacterial infection. Gastric acid can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals. Drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers, and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors, to suppress gastric acid production. But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea, and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.
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