New material releases controlled doses of meds

Researchers from Purdue University in West LaFayette, IN, have developed a biomaterial that sticks to skin and can deliver controlled doses of medications to wounds, according to the school.

The biomaterial is a hydrogel composed of 80% water and a polymer called polyvinyl alcohol. Medication can be added to the gel during the manufacturing process. The gel is applied to a wound and covered with a bandage.

"One of the advantages to delivering drugs with a bioadhesive patch on the skin is that the patients get a slow, constant dose over a longer period of time, perhaps a few days," says Nicholas Peppas, Showalter Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue. "In most situations this will heal the wound faster than applying medication that acts locally for a short time."

No risk of leaching impurities

Peppas adds that there are no toxic materials in the patch, thereby eliminating the risk of leaching impurities presented by other biomaterials. He also says the new biomaterial’s strength and elasticity remain fairly constant; between 60 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The primary application of the gel is for external, nonsurgical wounds. Other possible applications include delivering allergy medication to the nose or for medications in the mouth because the material sticks to mucous membranes.

A recent study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that people with osteoarthritis of the knee who exercise in moderation have less pain, reduced disability, and improved physical performance compared with people who are only educated about their condition.

A group of 439 people over age 60 with knee osteoarthritis took part in the 18-month Fitness Arthritis and Senior Trial study at two clinical centers, the University of Tennessee in Memphis and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

Exercise vs. rest

One group participated in a walking program on an indoor track with a trained exercise leader followed by a home walking program. Another group participated in a resistance training program at a facility at home, using dumbbells and cuff weights. The control group attended monthly education sessions led by a trained nurse.

"In the past, opinion was divided as to whether exercise or rest was the best treatment for osteoarthritis. This study clearly comes down on the side of exercise," says Stanley Slater, MD, deputy associate director of the NIA geriatrics program.

For more information on the study, contact the NIA at (301) 496-1752.