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Past Winner
2004 Innovation Challenge Award

Carmen Calinescu

Carboxymethyl Amidon for the Delivery of Bioactive Agents

Université du Québec à Montréal

Biochemists Jérôme Mulhbacher and Carmen Calinescu are in the process of earning their Ph.D. and master’s degrees respectively from the Université du Québec à Montréal. A growing number of pharmaceutical companies entrust their research and development projects to the UQAM. Mulhbacher and Calinescu (together with their research director, Mircea Alexandru Mateescu) have developed a macromolecular carrier (an excipient) derived from starch modified with acidic groups, which is able to protect therapeutic and bioactive agents in their passage through the stomach en route to the intestine. The excipient, called carboxymethyl starch (CM-S) is a "smart" polymer, allowing the formulation of an active agent in tablets which can withstand the gastric acid in the stomach (a critical factor in breaking drugs down prematurely, which means that the therapeutic agents are not delivered intact to the target sites in the body). Tablets, insoluble at gastric acidity, swell and become soluble at intestinal pH, consequently liberating the active agent. So far, formulations of probiotics with CM-S have been demonstrated in animal tests to be effective in treatment against infectious post-weaning diarrhea.

CM-S seems beneficial as an interesting excipient for oral vaccines, as well as for the growing market of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical formulations.