Researchers develop a bio-compatible patch that releases non-opioid painkillers for days and potentially serving as a safe substitute to opioid-based medications. The polymer patch releases a drug that blocks the activity of enzyme COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2,) responsible for driving pain and inflammation.
"We were making hernia meshes and different antimicrobial films," said Matthew Becker, the Hugo L. Blomquist professor chemistry at Duke, and last author on the paper. "We thought you could potentially put pain drugs or anesthetics in the film if you just sew it in as you're stitching the person up, then you wouldn't necessarily have to prescribe any opioids," Becker said.
Findings of the study appeared in the Journal of Controlled Release.
"Most polymers that are used in medicine swell, and everything comes out at once," Becker said. But this polymer erodes slowly, and its painkiller dose and longevity can be controlled simply by varying the surface area and thicknesses. "The film is about like a piece of paper."
"If you can get four or five days of pain control out of the patch and not have to take those other pain drugs, not only do you avoid some of the side effects and risks of addiction, you're concentrating therapy where you need it," Becker said.
Learn more about how pain relievers work:
Source: Science Daily