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THE CHALLENGE
ALONG
THE TRAIL—
Enhancing
Drug Penetration
Through the
Mucus Barrier

The body is surrounded by boundary tissues that
prevent foreign matter
from penetrating.

The mucus that coats these tissues—the eyes, lung, cervical/vaginal tract, and gastrointestinal tract—serves as a protective barrier to trap and eliminate particulate matter, such as viruses, bacteria, and allergens, before these agents can enter the underlying tissues and cause infections or elicit reactions. However, in playing this pivotal role of protection, mucus may also hinder medical treatments by limiting the penetration of medications to mucus-protected tissues, thereby reducing their therapeutic effect.

 


The challenge is: can you get through mucus?
This is true in any disease where mucus can prevent you from getting to the right target. The lung, the intestine, the vagina, the eye—all of these have significant mucosal barriers. There are a variety of companies that do what I’d call ‘bioadhesive’—they stick to mucus. But Kala is the first company I’ve seen that’s actually developed a way to get through mucus to penetrate the mucosal barrier.

—Robert Langer, ScD
    Kala co-founder and Koch Institute Professor at
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology



MUCUS CAN INTERFERE WITH
THE ABILITY

OF DRUGS TO REACH OPHTHALMIC TISSUE

The tear film protecting the eye’s surface can trap and eliminate traditional suspension eyedrops as the eyelid blinks. This process can limit the penetration of drugs to target ocular tissue when treating conditions in the front of the eye, such as dry eye disease and post-operative inflammation and pain.

Traditional suspension eye drops adhere to mucins and can be rapidly cleared through blinking

Novel technologies to circumvent this barrier are an important advance in delivering therapeutic agents to the target tissue.

We looked to nature for our inspiration... and found a potential answer: the dense, net neutral, and hydrophilic coating of viruses, which minimizes interaction within the mucosal barrier and increases transport to underlying tissue.1

...and found a potential answer: the dense, net neutral, and hydrophilic coating of viruses, which minimizes interaction within the mucosal barrier and increases transport to underlying tissue.1

Reference: 1. Lai SK, O'Hanlon DE, Harrold S, et al. Rapid transport of large polymeric nanoparticles in fresh undiluted human mucus. PNAS. 2007;104(5):1482-1487.

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