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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Gel may 'replace pills and jabs'
Image of a syringe
People can be scared of injections
Medication in a gel form could replace hard to swallow pills and painful injections, Indian scientists hope.

They have developed a gel that can deliver drugs to the stomach without being broken down on the way and can be taken orally.

This could avoid injections for diabetic patients and get directly to the problem area in gut disorders, they told Polymer International.

The chemists work at Government Model Science College in Jabalpur.

Easy to swallow

About half of the medicines prescribed for people with long term conditions are not taken as prescribed, research suggests.

There are many reasons why people do not take their medications, including needle phobias or dislike of swallowing hard tablets.

Researchers are continually looking for simple ways to deliver drugs, such as nasal sprays and skin patches.

Many people are looking forward to the day when they no longer have to inject insulin
Phil Casey, care advisor for Diabetes UK

Dr Sunil Bajpai and Ms Seema Dubey have designed a gel that can carry medications into the body when swallowed.

The properties of the gel also mean it avoids a common complication encountered by drugs that have to be swallowed - break down in the stomach by the acidic digestive juices.

The gel keeps hold of most the drug in the acid environment, only depositing the medication once it reaches the alkaline environment of the bowel.

Controlled release

According to its designers, this makes it ideal for treating bowel diseases like Crohn's disease.

The other area of disease where it might be useful is diabetes, they said.

Tests in the laboratory proved successful, but they said much more research was needed in real-life situations.

Phil Casey, care advisor for Diabetes UK said: "There is no doubt that many people are looking forward to the day when they no longer have to inject insulin."

He said about 575,000 people in the UK have to inject insulin.

Quite a lot of medicines do come in liquid forms anyway
Dr Martin Sarner from CORE

"However, these tests are still in the very early stages. We will await further results with interest," he said.

A spokeswoman from the Medicines Partnership said: "The biggest predictor of why people do not comply with treatment is their beliefs about medicines - the side effects verses the benefits.

"For some people, it might be that they are terrified of injections so regardless of the potential benefits of taking the mediation that would still be the most important factor for them.

"We welcome patients having options as to the different treatments available."

Dr Martin Sarner from CORE (formerly the Digestive Diseases Foundation), said there were already many medications around that had sophisticated ways of avoiding breakdown of the stomach.

"Quite a lot of medicines do come in liquid forms anyway," he added.


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