Latest study looking at childrens’ ability to swallow tablets

We have just completed a study to investigate whether children are able to swallow tablets and whether coatings make any difference to the mouthfeel.

The results are not yet ready for dissemination but there were a few things I learnt from delivery of this study:

  1. Research students do a fantastic job!
  2. Twitter is a useful tool to attract participants
  3. Children and parents love a mini lab-coat
  4. Certificates are appreciated
  5. Puppets can be easier to respond to compared to humans
  6. Thinktank Science museum are great hosts for a study

I am excited about the results and will share these once available. In the mean time I just wanted to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to all who participated.

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Poster to share our results on swallowability

We have prepared a poster below to provide an overview of what we found from our swallowability study. This is to provide an overview for anyone interested who cannot access the full article that is published online. If you are interested in the results please contact me and I can provide further details.

Thanks once again to those who took part in this study.

UoBColorcon_Swallowability poster-public version

Coatings that improve the swallowability of tablets…

I have mainly been working on children’s medicines but sometimes I look at other aspects. Issues in swallowing are not limited to children and up to 40% of adults have difficulty in swallowing their tablets. We did some research to find out whether coatings that are designed to be slippery can help in swallowing tablets and the results are now available here.

In summary – we found that YES! the coating applied can make a tablet easier to swallow where you need less water and it takes less time to swallow. Hopefully the same technologies can be applied for tablets for all populations to make medicines easier to take.

 

Extra “special” populations!

Having just posted about special populations I received an email to inform me that a recent paper that was written in conjunction with Sandra Klein at the University of Greifswald has just been published.

Here is a link.

This work specifically explored the impact of malnutrition on drug absorption in children. Malnutrition affects the gastro-intestinal physiology with impacts on every stage from saliva production through the stomach and into the small intestine. These differences mean that orally administered medicines may not be absorbed in the same was as in healthy adults. Most medicines are tested in healthy adults and then the findings used to predict how they are likely to work in a range of different populations. The paper summarized the main differences and where these differences may be important for this most vulnerable population.

“Special” populations

This week I attended a meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria as part of the UNGAP project. The European Network on Understanding Gastrointestinal Absorption-related Processes (UNGAP) is a multidisciplinary Network of scientists aiming to advance the field of intestinal drug absorption by focussing on 4 major challenges: (i) differences between specific patient populations, (ii) regional differences along the gastrointestinal tract, (iii) the intraluminal behaviour of advanced formulations, and (iv) the food-drug interface.

I was presenting on administration to “special” populations which encompassed both children and older adults – there are many similarities in these groups and the inclusion of carers in the administration process adds a layer of complexity.

Whilst there I heard many other interesting presentations with particular highlights including reviews on how food can affect drug performance and how we can make models to better predict drug absorption in these special populations.

It was fantastic to hear that outreach to the public is part of the UNGAP project and that there are opportunities to share the amazing work on so many platforms. There was even talk of a comic as an outreach mechanism.

Tales from a 6 year old

Recently my sister-in-law sent me a diary entry written by my nephew 3 years ago following a trip to Birmingham when he took part in a study I was running. The study was looking at the acceptability of multiparticulates.

I love the fact that his favourite part was getting a wristband and a kinder egg. I should also say that on that date there was a Sikh charity giving out free food which was also a memory for him and me! The study faded into the background as part of his day. However, I do feel like I should send this to an ethics panel to show that their work is valuable as the child who participated felt comfortable with the event and there was no sign of distress. However, I also need to point out that the children were offered fruit as a reward for our study rather than chocolate and that egg was a general treat!

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EuPFI 2018

I spent the last 3 days at the European Paediatric Formulation Initiative’s annual conference. This is a meeting dedicated to better understanding of children’s medicines and how we can work to improve them. It was the 10 year anniversary of the meeting so it was an opportunity to celebrate. However, it became apparent that there are still relatively few bespoke age-appropriate medicines available for children and that there is still a long way to go. On the positive side there was so much enthusiasm to get there so I remain hopeful.

A highlight of the meeting was the involvement of 2 young people who were able to chair a panel discussion and contribute to the meeting. In addition it was great to have a parent representative to speak about the day to day tribulations involved in administration of medicines to children.

The meeting closed with a talk by Professor Charles Spence from the University of Oxford. He has looked at how sounds and surroundings impact on taste. Most of his work has been at the high-end restaurants rather than the routine dosing of medicines but there was plenty of food for thought in his presentation. If you want to know more here is a sample of his work:

Tasting spoons: Assessing how the material of a spoon affects the taste of the food, Piqueras-Fiszman et al. Food Quality and Preference 24 (2012) 24–29