Coral derived material for efficient delivery of bone forming drug in the body

Simvastatin (Credit: SPL)Researchers have efficiently used the material obtained from the marine sources in the drug delivery of simvastatin.

This research has been published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Simvastatin is a drug used to control high level of cholesterol in the body. It has also shown to induce bone formation.

In this study, researchers worked on beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) as a drug delivery vehicle. They converted hydrothermally marine exoskeletons of the corals to biocompatible beta-tricalcium phosphate. Moreover, researchers have also coated the material with an outer apatite coating to study the slow release of the drug.

Researchers found that this apatite coating of the drug resulted in 20% reduced release of the drug that can be efficiently used for prolonged delivery of the drug. This coating is also helpful in significantly inhibiting the initial rapid outburst of the drug providing time for the inflammation, around the surgical site, to be reduced.

This drug delivery process is helpful as the bioinorganics obtained from the natural sources work in conjunction with pharmaceutical compounds.

The proposed position for simvastatin loaded β-TCP delivery system is to implant it at either the local site of trauma or in the intramuscular region near the affected site.

Joshua Chou, from Advanced Tissue Regeneration & Drug Delivery Group, School of Medical and Molecular Biosciences, University of Technology, Sydney and one of the authors of the research told in an email,

“In terms of other routes of administration, we are exploring smaller samples capable of being injected (with a rather big needle). Oral route will most likely not provide the therapeutic effect we would hope for as oral administration generally leads to higher and faster release which will limit the effectiveness of the system.”

The team is also working on other drugs for the naturally derived delivery systems.

“We have worked on other drugs, antibiotics (gentamicin) and other bone stimulating drugs (bisphosphonates) and all show positive therapeutic potential for their intended applications.” Joshua added.

Different exoskeletons can be used for different “biomedical applications” and some of them can best be used for efficient drug delivery systems. Joshua explained,

“Different species amongst corals have different structural architecture and while most of them provide the porous architectural structure, not all of them are interconnected with uniform pore size distribution. As these are critical factors, I would say that only specific species of corals can be used with maximum effect for use as a drug delivery system. (However,) For different biomedical applications, other corals can be used as well.”


Chou, J., Ito, T., Bishop, D., Otsuka, M., Ben-Nissan, B., & Milthorpe, B. (2013). Controlled Release of Simvastatin from Biomimetic β-TCP Drug Delivery System PLoS ONE, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054676

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