Alumni Magazine Summer 2014 - page 15-16

Summer 2014
Summer 2014
Breakthrough Technology Leads to Improved Pharmaceutical Products
“Smart” Microparticles Improve Drug
Release and Absorption
The drug delivery technology developed in Krishnan’s
laboratory at Clarkson is capable of incorporating
hydrophilic (water soluble) and hydrophobic (non-water
soluble) compounds in an aqueous suspension. This
significantly improves the overall solubility and availability
of the drug compounds, which aids absorption.
“Most importantly, the micro-sized polymer
particles we developed are pH and temperature
sensitive,” says Krishnan. “This means the particles can
be ‘tuned’ to maximize the release and absorption of
bioactive substances, like carbohydrates or drugs, at
specific points along the GI tract.”
This is important because compounds are better
dissolved and absorbed at different locations along
the GI tract, based on their physical and chemical
characteristics. Because Krishnan and his research team’s
“smart” particles are responsive to the pH differences
between the stomach (which is highly acidic) and the
intestines, they prevent the release of the supplement
or drug in the stomach and allow instead for a gradual
release in the small intestine where it is better absorbed.
The particles are also designed to be temperature-
responsive so that the degree and rate of release of
bio-active material is designed to work in concert with
the temperature of the human body giving them the
ability to release at different controlled rates when the
body temperature elevates yet maintain shelf-life under
normal storage conditions.
One of the company’s first applications for this
patented technology is the sustained delivery of glucose
and other sugars and nutrients for use by athletes to
increase their performance potential.
This fall, NewWorld Pharmaceuticals and its affiliate,
NewWorld Consumer Products, will release X
CEL™, a
sports performance carbohydrate supplement.
“We are extremely excited about X
CEL™,” says
Sexton. “Being able to apply our innovative delivery
technology to carbohydrates to improve athlete
performance potential is awesome. There hasn’t been
any real breakthrough in athlete nutrition technology.
Most products are really derivative blends of the
same basic ingredients. Our technology platform is
positioned to change that.”
Broader Therapeutic Applications
Of course this technology has broader applications
beyond carbohydrate formulations for high-
performing athletes.
The same platform technology can be applied to
specialty pharmaceutical markets. In particular, it can
be used to improve the delivery and efficacy of “difficult
to absorb” drug compounds, a significant problem in
the pharmaceutical industry today.
For Clarkson, the project and timing couldn’t
be better. Last fall, N.Y. state announced it will invest
$35 million to support a new partnership between
the University and the nearby Trudeau Institute, a
world leader in immunology research. The institutions
will work closely to develop novel technologies for
preventing and treating infectious diseases and
immune-related disorders.
The goal is to establish the region as a premier
center of biotechnology research and development.
“It’s an exciting coincidence that we have been
able to work with Fred and his company to help
develop this product just as we are embarking on this
partnership with The Trudeau Institute,” says Clarkson
President Tony Collins. “We are excited to have our
name associated with NewWorld Pharmaceuticals and
the products they are developing.”
Thanks to a partnership between pharmaceuticals executive and entrepreneur
Fred Sexton ’81 and Clarkson researcher Sitaraman Krishnan, today’s athletes
will benefit from an innovative drug delivery system that works with the
body to improve the absorption of carbohydrates for maximum benefit
and peak performance.
The product, X
CEL™, hits the market this fall.
Bioactives are substances that have an effect upon
a living organism, tissue, or cells. They are derived
from plants or other living systems and are added to
pharmaceutical products or foods for their associated
health or nutritional benefits. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic
acid) is one example. Probiotics which are added
to yogurt to promote digestion, is another. As are
vitamins and carbohydrates like starch and sugar.
For bioactive ingredients to provide their
maximum health returns however, they must be
absorbed into the body. For that to happen, they
need be delivered to the right place and for the right
amount of time to maximize the therapuetic effect.
That’s where Sitaraman Krishnan, associate
professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering,
comes in. Krishnan and his team have been working
with Frederick Sexton ’81, founder and president of
New World Pharmaceuticals, to develop a patented
pH- and temperature-responsive, micro-gel delivery
system for the sustained delivery of bioactives.
Sexton, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceuticals
industry and successful entrepreneur, founded New
World Pharmaceuticals in 2007. The Charleston, South
Carolina-based company focuses on the development
of innovative controlled-release technologies.
ZSource Ltd. President and Clarkson Trustee
Robert Ziek ’78, who has led consumer product
research and development for large corporations as
well as start-ups, serves as supply chain and product
development advisor for the company. The two
met at an on-campus alumni leadership event a
few years ago and Sexton invited Ziek to join the
advisory board.
When it came time to find research partners
to develop these technologies, Sexton turned to his
alma mater.
“Clarkson has always had strong chemical
engineering and chemistry research programs and
a great deal of expertise in this area,” says Sexton.
“It seemed like a natural fit.”
Fueling Athletic
In the lab, Prof. Sitaraman Krishnan makes rheological measurements to
evaluate the pH and temperature responsiveness of the microparticles.
By Suzanne F. Smith
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