/Polymers for Health
The production process for polymers that transport medication directly to the abnormal cells will reduce the cost of cutting-edge treatments for patients with cancer and schistosomiasis in Brazil.
The process uses a synthetic polymer as a base, which is a microscopic sphere of plastic materials called “casca-núcleo” (core-shell). It was already patented by Coppe together with a company. In the case of fighting cancer, the size of the polymer makes it possible to inject the microparticle in the body to take the medication the closest possible to the tumor via blood stream.
One of the differentials of this technique developed at Coppe is the insertion of the medication into the polymer in a single step of production process, which reduces time and manufacturing cost.
Applying drugs by means of polymers is more efficient than the traditional chemical therapy because it acts directly on the affected cells. Therefore, it reduces the quantity of medication in the organism and consequently its side effects. However, in Brazil, its use is still restricted due to the high cost of imported products.
Coppe’s polymer can play more than one role and be can used in various types of treatment. In addition to act as a mean to transport drugs in the bloodstream, it can fight tumors through embolization. In this case, it obstructs the blood vessels, which blocks blood irrigation to the tumor, receding the tumor or even eliminating it.
Regarding schistosomiasis, the use of a synthetic polymer is especially appropriate for pediatric treatment. The polymer that is being produced in Coppe’s pilot plant will store praziquantel, which is a medicine frequently used against the disease that affects 8 million people in Brazil and 200 million people in the world – mostly children from South America and Africa.
Praziquantel encapsulated in the polymer is better used by the organism, as the loss in the gastrointestinal tract is reduced. In addition, the polymer facilitates the medicine ingestion by children, who usually reject its bitter taste and who have difficulty in swallowing large pills that are currently offered.