Advancements In Drug Delivery Strengthen Health of Women

Right from elevating the contraceptive methods to going ahead and improving the treatment of reproductive health issues, drug delivery innovations happen to be paving the way for a more personalized as well as an effective approach to women’s healthcare.

Numerous innovations, such as nanotechnology as well as biomaterial-based drug delivery technologies, happen to be addressing the unique challenges and requirements that are associated with women’s wellbeing.

But there are many practical challenges when it comes to developing drug delivery devices in terms of women’s health. Patients happen to have unique body types, microbiomes, and drug responses, and that one size fits all approach is not forever in alignment with the rising trend towards customized medicine.

Women happen to have microenvironments such as the vagina as well as the placenta, which need specific design considerations in terms of optimum drug delivery. There will also be examples where it is always preferable to deliver more than one therapy with the same device platform; balancing biocompatible materials happens to be a fine balance with safety and efficacy considerations for the manufacturers.

It is worth noting that just 3.7% of all the clinical trials from 2007 to 2020 happened to focus on female gynecology. This kind of disparity still exists between preclinical funding as well as disease burden for women-specific disorders as well as men-specific disorders. This is one of the reasons why research and development into drug delivery technologies, especially for women’s health, has been limited. More funding as well as preclinical research is needed so as to implement drug delivery technologies before such kind of innovations can be completely optimized for the treatment of health conditions that are relevant to women.

Here are the latest drug delivery innovations in this spectrum that could very well have an impact in the years to come.

• Contraceptive devices & beyond

The revolution of long-acting reversible contraceptives- LARCs has gone on to offer women extended reversible protection for more than 30 years. Intrauterine devices- IUDs like those containing levonorgestrel, which is a progestin hormone, now go on to offer sustained release through an extended period, which is ranging from three to ten years.

Hormonal IUDs often make use of a silicone additive in order to release a controlled amount of progestin over time, and the fact is that similar devices can also treat symptoms that are associated with endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. The prospects when it comes to using silicone in this way happen to be promising, as it can be made use of for multi-platform drug delivery, not just for hormones but potentially to go ahead and deliver pharmaceuticals to treat sexually transmitted infections as well as other health conditions too. Elkem Silicones happens to be one of the leaders in this field, collaborating with medical device manufacturers in order to create such drug delivery devices. Many companies have also produced a silicone intravaginal ring- IVR which happens to have the potential to target patient-specific indications.

• Targeted therapies when it comes to reproductive health

Traditional treatments pertaining to endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome- PCOS and other gynecological conditions often go on to involve systemic administration of medications, hence leading to potential side effects as well as reduced efficacy. But the recent innovations look forward to delivering the therapies directly to the affected regions, thereby optimizing treatment outcomes while at the same time also minimizing adverse effects.

Nanoparticles, due to their small size as well as unique properties, can be engineered to transport drugs directly to the site of action. For instance, the researchers happen to be exploring the use of nanocarriers to go ahead and deliver anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of endometriosis. By way of precisely targeting the inflamed tissues, such kinds of nanocarriers enhance the drug concentration in the area of action, thereby potentially enhancing therapeutic outcomes and, at the same time, minimizing side effects that happen to be associated with systemic drug administration.

It is well to be noted that in November 2023, GlobalData analysts went on to identify the leading innovators within the drug delivery nanoparticles, and such industry players will be among those to watch in the women’s health spectrum.

• Customized hormone therapy

Hormone therapy happens to play a critical role when it comes to managing many of women’s health conditions, such as menopausal symptoms, hormonal imbalances, and fertility issues. But attaining the highest levels of therapeutic outcomes often has to have a personalized approach, thereby considering individual variations within the hormone levels and also responsiveness.

For quite some years now, transdermal patches, gels, and also intra-vaginal pessaries, have gone on to offer a controlled and continuous hormone release and happen to be a viable alternative to the traditional oral medications, thereby decreasing the likelihood of fluctuations as well as systemic side effects. But allergies when it comes to sticky patches and the messiness of gels have forever been the downsides.

It is well to be noted that the more recent introduction pertaining to transdermal sprays is set to completely shift the market as these go on to dry within seconds. The only brand pertaining to the HRT spray available in the UK happens to be Lenzetto, which is manufactured by Gedeon Richter. Evamist, manufactured by Padagis in the US, is the other one. The sprays happen to deliver estradiol oestrogen only and not progesterone, which must be taken separately.

• Overcoming the maternal-foetal barriers

Pregnancy goes on to present a unique challenge when it comes to drug delivery, as certain medications may go on to pose risks to the developing foetus while at the same time being needed to address maternal health issues. Emerging innovations within the drug delivery landscape happen to be focused on overcoming maternal-foetal barriers so as to ensure the safety and efficacy of treatments during pregnancy.

Researchers happen to be exploring the usage of nanoparticles so as to encapsulate drugs, safeguarding them from degradation as well as facilitating their controlled release. This enables for the targeted delivery in terms of therapeutic agents to specific tissues while at the same time also minimising exposure to the developing foetus.

In scenarios where immediate intervention happens to be required, implantable devices having an on-demand drug release capabilities are being developed. These devices can be remotely made functional so as to release medication as required, thereby offering a tailored and timely approach in terms of maternal healthcare sans compromising foetal wellbeing.

• 3D printing

Formulating drug delivery devices by way of 3D printing happens to be a growing area in terms of innovation, but research pertaining to drug delivery devices for women’s health applications has been pretty slow to develop. It is well to be noted that a 2023 review by Karen Al-Litani et al. went on to discover the industry landscape.

Within it, the authors stressed that the formulation challenges, such as the selection of materials that happen to be suitable for the chosen printing technology and being medically safe, also go on to achieve the anticipated drug release profile.

The fact is that standardized guidelines happen to be needed for the characterization as far as drug delivery devices are concerned. This will help with the development of better systems and enable the comparison between different printing technologies as well as formulation approaches.

The review advises that regulatory challenges also have to be overcome so as to fully explore the potential when it comes to 3D printing in pharma manufacturing of customized as well as innovative implantable dosage forms.