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Duquesne University Researchers Move Closer to Producing Pain Nanomedicine

Duquesne University is a step closer to creating a pain nanomedicine that can withstand pharmaceutical design and manufacturing processes and be produced at a large scale. 

For the first time, Duquesne Pharmacy Professor Jelena Janjic and her research team used industry accepted, quality-by-design standards to create the pain nanomedicine, which is not typically done with nanotechnology. Their research findings were published in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists' PharmSciTech journal.

"Following this approach allows us to predict whether nanoparticles will be stable three months out and what the size of the pill will look like, among other factors," said Janjic, associate pharmacy professor and founder and co-director of the University's Chronic Pain Research Consortium. "These features are critical to know as we work to produce these drugs."

Janjic created the first inflammatory pain nanomedicine that directly targets the pain source, which could significantly reduce the need for opioids in treating pain.

In a study presented last year, Janjic found that nanomedicines, which carry miniscule amounts of drugs, reduced pain behavior after a single injection for one week to one month in rats and mice with diverse types of injury. The nanomedicines carry 2,000 times less medicine than a typical dose, which could reduce the need for opioids in treating various types of pain, including after injury, surgery or even cancer.

Janjic and her research team - Duquesne pharmacy doctoral candidates Michele Herneisey, Lu Liu and Eric Lambert -- followed rigorous models to develop a nanomedicine that could remain stable under manufacturing conditions and still be effective.

"Using various design experiments, we tested nanomedicine formulations under different processing parameters," Herneisey said. "That helped us narrow down the number of formulations that could provide us with a stable model and hold the drug load."

In early testing, Herneisey noted that the most stable models had smaller drug loads, so the team used predictive modeling to find a formula that was stable and capable of holding the needed drug amount. Another element of testing was determining how the drug reacted under different stress tests, including how the medicine held up at different temperatures and in transport.

"We are conducting some of the same tests that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates," Liu said. "It's important to keep in mind as we develop the formulation. By passing these obstacles, it's easier to move the nanomedicine to future clinical trials. Every component must be designated as safe."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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