Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Liposomal Encapsulation Delivers Medications More Efficiently

By Jody Leach

Medications and nutritional supplements often target specific organs or systems. The most effective delivery method is by injection or intravenous drip, both of which transfer substances directly into the bloodstream. When taken orally, medications must pass through the upper digestive system, where they may be degraded. Liposomal encapsulation forms a protective barrier that allows more thorough absorption.

Scientists first became aware of the process during the 1960s, and their discovery ultimately led to new and more effective means of administering drugs internally. Today, it is widely used in the treatment of age-related degenerative conditions affecting vision, stubborn fungal infections, and even some kinds of cancer. Although standard methods of delivery still predominate medically, encapsulation has proven to be a viable alternative.

In order to allow drugs to pass through the digestive tract without being broken down, they must be safely encased within a non-toxic protective barrier. Effectively shielding these individual microscopic capsules is possible when using an organic agent that mimics normal cellular walls. When that substance is activated using a variety of current methods, small individual bubbles made of liposomes are formed.

They are microscopic, and can easily pass through the stomach into the small intestine where the coating slowly dissolves, allowing the medication to be absorbed. In many cases, this process actually improves the therapeutic impact, and has the additional benefit of producing fewer side effects. Not all types of medicine are adaptable to this delivery system, which is primarily associated with water-soluble substances.

Because the process is not invasive and generates fewer negative reactions, there are immediately and obvious advantages. Liposomes are completely biodegradable, and contain no petroleum-derived compounds or other unwanted toxic substances. They easily survive an onslaught of powerful acid, and later function as mini time-release stations within the small intestine. Powerful cancer drugs administered in this way create less collateral damage to surrounding tissues.

While immediately useful in delivering medication, the process does have drawbacks. The cost of production remains high, but will very likely decrease as research into new product uses expands. There have been issues regarding seal leakage, and common oxidation may also reduce effectiveness. The half-lives of certain drugs decrease using this process, and long-term stability may be shortened. Even so, the potential benefits outweigh known negatives.

The past several years witnessed a transition from mainly medical use to include internal delivery of nutritional supplements and even cosmetic substances. Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the increased effectiveness of administering both vitamins and minerals in this manner. For years Vitamin C has enjoyed an enviable reputation for fighting upper respiratory viral infections, and encapsulated forms are thought to produce even better results.

Although information highlighting consumer ability to create encapsulated vitamins, minerals, and even herbal extracts is readily available, making high-quality formulations can be costly and involved, and will not effectively combat the normal issues associated with aging. As support and development of this process continues in the medical world, the public will benefit most from it being used in conjunction with health regimens that have already been proven effective.

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