Polymers are well-established as a core material in the drug delivery field. They offer a high degree of flexibility to formulation scientists on account of the potential to functionalize existing and synthesize novel polymers. Due to the increased prevalence of chronic diseases, there is an unmet need for sustained-release formulations of drugs. These have many benefits including improved patient compliance (relative to repeated dosing) and reduced pharmacokinetic fluctuation. In addition, such formulations can potentially lower the economic burden on healthcare providers.
The majority of approved long-acting (i.e. sustained-release) formulations utilize polymers such as poly(lactide) (PLA) and poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA). Despite their widespread use, these polymers have limitations such as an initial burst release and their degradation products can induce a minor inflammatory response in vivo.
At the Allen lab, we focus on the development of novel polymeric materials in order to formulate long-acting injectables (LAIs) and implants. These LAIs and implants are optimized for improved performance with respect to; biocompatibility, biodegradability, drug loading and release. We are also working on integrating machine learning and microfluidics into the development process for our polymeric LAIs and implants.