Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Brittany Sauser

Using Tequila Fructans for Drug Delivery

The fruit compounds used to make tequila could also be used to save your colon.

  • April 3, 2007

Researchers at the University of Guadalajara, in Mexico, have discovered that fruit compounds taken from the blue-agave plant used to make tequila can be employed as an effective method of delivering drugs to the colon. This development is important for the treatment of colon diseases because physicians have been struggling to find a drug carrier that can withstand stomach acids and deliver medications to the intestine, where they are metabolized.

The blue-agave plant is an important economic product in Mexico because of its role as the base ingredient in tequila. Now researchers are using this ingredient, a fructan compound, as a method of delivering drugs to the colon.

It has been known for many years that the blue-agave plant contains a polysaccharide known as fructan, a polymer of fructose. The compound is not hydrolyzed in acidic environments, such as the upper digestive tract, and it’s therefore able to reach the intestine fully intact. Other plants, such as the chicory, the Jerusalem artichoke, and the dandelion, also contain fructan, but unlike the blue agave, they are unable to produce the large amount of fructan needed to create an effective drug carrier.

To form a drug carrier, the researchers had to chemically modify the extracted fructans to make them nonsoluble in water. They also had to design microspheres of the compound that could encapsulate the drug. To test their method, the researchers filled the microspheres with ibuprofen and exposed them to hydrochloric acid for an hour.

Their laboratory results, presented at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, showed the drug to be undamaged. But the group plans to continue working on the design of the microspheres. Within the next year it will be testing the effectiveness of the release of the compounds under the conditions that prevail in the colon. Then the group will move on to animal trials and even further clinical trials.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.