Baylor College of Pharmaceutical and partner schools have studied a more effective medicine delivery technique that does not require injections and could be as simple as swallowing a tablet. The work was published in the most recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Christine Beeton, a co-corresponding author and professor of integrative physiology at Baylor, highlighted that many patients dread getting injections for the rest of their lives. According to the current study, the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri could be employed as a novel oral medicine delivery platform to treat rheumatoid arthritis in an animal model.
To treat chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, injections are typically required for the rest of one’s life. Despite this, patients may skip doses owing to needle anxiety, infection risk, and injection pain. This emphasises the need for innovative delivery technologies in order to treat patients in an efficient and adverse-effect-free manner.
Previous research from the Beeton lab has shown that a peptide, or short protein, produced from sea anemone toxin dramatically and safely reduces disease severity in rat models of rheumatoid arthritis and in patients with plaque psoriasis. However, Beeton pointed out that direct oral delivery of peptides is ineffective and necessitates numerous injections, which reduces patient compliance.
Dr. Robert A. Britton, a Baylor University professor of molecular virology and microbiology and a member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Beeton collaborated on study. The Britton lab has developed the resources and expertise required to genetically modify probiotic microbes in order to release and synthesise chemicals. In the current study, the probiotic L. reuteri was bioengineered to produce the peptide ShK-235 derived from sea anemone toxin.
They chose L. reuteri because it is found naturally in both human and animal stomachs. It belongs to a type of lactic acid bacterium that has long been employed as a cell factory in the food industry and is permitted for use by the US Food and Drug Administration. L. reuteri has a very favourable safety profile in babies, children, adults, and even immunocompromised persons.
According to Beeton, the results are positive. In a rheumatoid arthritis animal model, daily injection of these peptide-secreting bacteria, known as LrS235, markedly reduced clinical symptoms such as joint inflammation, cartilage erosion, and bone deterioration.
The bacteria LrS235 and the peptide ShK-235 it secreted were studied inside the animal model. They identified ShK-235 in the blood circulation after giving rats live LrS235, which releases ShK-235.
“Another element in our decision was the fact that L. reuteri bacteria do not live in the gut indefinitely. According to Beeton, they are eliminated as a result of the gut’s continuous renewal of the inner surface layer to which the bacteria adhere. This opens the way to regulating treatment delivery.”
The researchers feel that this novel medicine delivery method has the potential to improve patient care, but further research is needed before it can be employed in clinical settings. “These germs may be stored in capsules that can be kept on the kitchen counter,” says Beeton. “A patient might continue treatment without the hassle of daily injections by eating the capsules while on vacation without the need for refrigeration or needles.”
The findings provide an alternative drug delivery mechanism for peptide-based treatments and suggest that comparable approaches and ideas can be employed to treat a wide range of chronic inflammatory illnesses and medications.