New study aim to provide safer oral administration of macromolecular drugs

2020-10-27

"Our project is developing in a very positive direction," says Staffan Berg, PhD Student at SweDeliver that, with base at both AstraZeneca R&D and Uppsala's Faculty of Pharmacy, hopes to add new knowledge to one of pharmaceutical research's oldest challenges.

Staffan Berg, PhD Student at SweDeliver
Staffan Berg, PhD Student at SweDeliver

Oral administration of macromolecular drugs remains a difficult challenge to pharmaceutical scientists. For close to a century, researchers have been looking for novel methods to increase bioavailability and ensure predictable absorption of macromolecules during oral administration. In an ongoing PhD project within SweDeliver, Staffan Berg studies how different drugs interact with permeation enhancers, and at a half-time seminar on 15 October, he presented the work's progress.

“The few peptide-based drugs with oral administration that have reached the market are associated with low and varying degrees of absorption. This requires both increased knowledge and new models. My research focuses on absorption studies of drug peptides and model substances when delivered with permeation enhancers. We have gathered a lot of promising data and hope to complete our results with computer-based modeling studies. On the whole, our project is developing in a very positive direction,” says Staffan Berg.

As a national research and competence center, SweDeliver is an intersection between academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Staffan Berg is conducting his PhD studies at Uppsala University's Department of Pharmacy, but residing at AstraZeneca R&D in Gothenburg – one of the company’s three strategic scientific centers with a focus on research and development in drug delivery.

“Being part of SweDeliver constantly open new doors. During my visits to Uppsala as well as online, I team up with researchers, postdocs and doctoral students at the Faculty of Pharmacy. At AstraZeneca R&D in Gothenburg, nearly 2,400 people work and many show interest and provide important input to my work. In addition, I have access to state-of-the-art research facilities, so for me SweDeliver really adds significant value.”

Research of Staffan Berg
Figure modified from Servier medical art under a CC BY 3.0 license.

The aim of the PhD project is to generate new knowledge about how permeation enhancers should best be used for successful oral administration of macromolecular drugs. The goal is that the collected data will enable design of novel drug delivery systems that will increase oral absorption of macromolecules and reduce variation in uptake. The project is expected to conclude in the autumn of 2022.

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text: Magnus Alsne, photo: AstraZeneca R&D 

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Last modified: 2021-06-22