Personalised medication for children developed with new technology

30 January 2018

In a new research project, researchers at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital are using innovative technology to develop personalised preparations for children with cancer and neurological diseases.

Medication for severely ill children with, for example, cancer or neurological disease are often not tailored – either dosage or appearance – for young people. Using new technology, a team of researchers at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital are developing individualised preparations.

The three-year research project ‘Personalized Medications for Children Suffering from Severe Diseases’ recently received a grant in the amount of SEK 7.5 million from the Erling-Persson Family Foundation. The project is headed by Christel Bergström, Department of Pharmacy, Uppsala University. Project team members from Uppsala University Hospital include Mattias Paulsson.

One of the things used in the project will be the material Upsalite, a type of mesoporous magnesium carbonate that was discovered by Maria Strømme’s research team at the the Division for Nanotechnology and Functional Materials at the Department of Engineering Sciences.

“One challenge in the care of severely ill children is that drug levels in the blood can end up outside the desired range, and this could cause the medication to not work or lead to side effects,” says Mattias Paulsson at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health and Uppsala University Children’s Hospital. “Another challenge is that it is often difficult for parents to administer the correct doses at home. How can you accurately administer exactly 1/5 of a tablet or 30 milligrams of a 100-milligram capsule?”

The focus of the research team is to create safe and personalised drug therapies for children with children and neurological diseases. They will develop new technology such as e.g. 3D printing, capsule filling and the new material Upsalite, which enables slower drug release and which can carry poorly soluble substances so that they can be more easily absorbed in the body.

An important part of the project will be to involve patient organisations early in the development process, for example in relation to focus groups. The patients will provide feedback on things such as appearance, colour and form of preparation.

“We hope to be able to develop a technology that enables improved drug dosage tailoring closer to the patients –  in medical clinics or at home,” says Paulson. “The goal is to give the patients more even levels of medication in the blood and a lower risk for side effects, as well as to reduce the number of times a day they need to take medication.”