New gels could help the medicine go down
For most children and even some adults, swallowing pills or tablets is difficult. To make it easier to give those medicines, researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have created a drug-delivering gel that is much easier to swallow and could be used to administer a variety of different kinds of drugs.

The gels, made from plant-based oils such as sesame oil, can be prepared with a variety of textures, from a thickened beverage to a yogurt-like substance. The gels are stable without refrigeration, which could make them easier to get to children in developing nations, but they could also be beneficial for children anywhere, the researchers say. They could also help adults who have difficulty swallowing pills, such as older people or people who have suffered a stroke.

Administering medicines to 0- to 5-year-old children in a resource-limited environment requires dosage forms that circumvent swallowing solids, avoid on-field reconstitution, and are thermostable, cheap, versatile, and taste masking. We present a strategy that stands to solve this multifaceted problem. As many drugs lack adequate water solubility, our formulations used oils, whose textures could be modified with gelling agents to form “oleogels.” In a clinical study, we showed that the oleogels can be formulated to be as fluid as thickened beverages and as stiff as yogurt puddings. In swine, oleogels could deliver four drugs ranging three orders of magnitude in their water solubilities and two orders of magnitude in their partition coefficients. Oleogels could be stabilized at 40°C for prolonged durations and used without redispersion. Last, we developed a macrofluidic system enabling fixed and metered dosing. We anticipate that this platform could be adopted for pediatric dosing, palliative care, and gastrointestinal disease applications.