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So one of the things that we set out to do here
in collaboration with The Gates Foundation,
was develop systems that, you know,
have a potential of making it easier
for children to receive their medication.
The key challenges that children have
are having to take solids,
so whether it'll be a tablet or a capsule.
So one of the things
we wanted to think about and try and develop
was a system that could be ingested, but as a liquid.
And we wanted a system that could somehow extend
a longer period of time for that drug to be absorbed.
- [Female Voiceover] The researchers took
their inspiration from nature
and began to experiment with a polymer called Polydopamine,
which is a component of the sticky substance
that mussels secrete to help them cling to rocks.
They discovered that an enzyme called Catalase,
which is found throughout the digestive tract,
with especially high levels
in the upper region of the small intestine,
could help assemble molecules of Dopamine
into the Polydopamine polymer.
Through their lab experiments,
the researchers show that if they deliver Dopamine
in a liquid solution
along with a tiny amount of Hydrogen Peroxide,
Catalase in the small intestine will break down
the Hydrogen Peroxide into water and oxygen.
The oxygen then helps Dopamine molecules to join together
into the Polydopamine polymer.
The darker color signals the transformation
into the Polydopamine polymer.
- So what we developed here is essentially a film
that forms right over the small intestine.
And one of the things we recognized
was that we could embed drugs in there
and have those drugs be absorbed over longer periods.
But what we also recognized is that we could use that film
to hold different tools.
So one of the other tools that we recognized
that we could really include here
were enzymes to help with digestion.
- [Female Voiceover] The researchers showed
that they could embed the polymer with tiny crosslinkers
that make the coating impenetrable
to glucose, and potentially, other molecules.
This could ultimately help in management
of diabetes, obesity or other metabolic disorders.