Body posture affects how the stomach absorbs oral medications

The results emphasized the role of body posture and stomach motility in drug bioavailability.
Mert Erdemir
Medicine pills in human stomach stock photo.
Medicine pills in human stomach stock photo.Rasi Bhadramani/iStock
  • Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have conducted a study to examine how body posture and stomach motility affect drug bioavailability.
  • Stomach contents, motility, and gastric fluid dynamics are also influential factors in a drug's bioavailability.
  • "Our models can generate biorelevant data on drug dissolution that can provide useful and unique insights into the complex physiological processes behind the oral administration of pills," explains the study.

Many of you've probably swallowed a medicine sometime in your lives. It's very common, and many drugs are taken orally, such as tablets, capsules, syrups, or lozenges.

Even though oral medication is one of the most common types of treatment due to the fact that it's cheap and easy to apply, it comes with a complex downside. Oral administration is actually complicated for the human body to absorb an active pharmaceutical ingredient. This is because the drug's bioavailability (rate and extent of absorption) in the gastrointestinal tract depends on the medication's components and the stomach's dynamic physiological environment.

Body posture could affect the efficiency of drugs

Concerning this, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have conducted a study to examine how body posture and stomach motility affect drug bioavailability. They used a biomimetic in-silico simulator based on the realistic anatomy and morphology of the stomach called a "StomachSim," according to the press release.

"Oral administration is surprisingly complex despite being the most common choice for drug administration," said Rajat Mittal, the co-author of the study. "When the pill reaches the stomach, the motion of the stomach walls and the flow of contents inside determine the rate at which it dissolves. The properties of the pill and the stomach contents also play a major role."

"However, current experimental or clinical procedures for assessing the dissolution of oral drugs are limited in their ability to study this, which makes it a challenge to understand how the dissolution is affected in different stomach disorders, such as gastroparesis, which slows down the emptying of the stomach."

Body posture affects how the stomach absorbs oral medications
Diagram showing the original position of the stomach.
CREDIT: Rajat Mittal 

Stomach contents, motility, and gastric fluid dynamics are also influential factors in a drug's bioavailability. In addition to that, stomach contractions can create pressure and cause complex pill trajectories. This leads to varying rates of pill dissolutiın and nonuniform emptying of the drug into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine), and even gastric dumping in the case of modified-release dosage. All of these provide various difficulties for the design of drug delivery.

A computer simulation platform to overcome limitations

"In this work, we demonstrate a novel computer simulation platform that offers the potential for overcoming these limitations," added Mittal. "Our models can generate biorelevant data on drug dissolution that can provide useful and unique insights into the complex physiological processes behind the oral administration of pills."

This modeling is the first of its kind to quantify an active pharmaceutical ingredient passing through the pylorus into the duodenum by coupling gastric biomechanics with pill movement and drug dissolution. It can pave the way for researchers to calculate and compare the emptying rate and the release of a dissolved active pharmaceutical ingredient into the duodenum for various physiological situations.

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