A team of scientists, led by Duke University, have developed a bio-compatible surgical patch that releases nonopioid painkillers directly to the site of a wound.
The polymer patch, made of poly(ester urea) homopolymers and co-polymers, lasts for several days and then dissolves. It uses a controlled release of a drug that blocks the enzyme COX-2. The polymer’s surface area and thicknesses control the release of the painkiller.
Traditional polymers swell and the medicine is released at once.
“If you can get four or five days of pain control out of the patch and not have to take those other pain drugs, not only do you avoid some of the side effects and risks of addiction, you’re concentrating therapy where you need it,” Matthew Becker, Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, said.
Becker received a $2 million grant from the state of Ohio at his previous institution to investigate nonopioid pain management as a means of controlling the opioid epidemic. Becker began working at Duke in 2019, and he and his research team partnered with Dr. Ru-Rong Ji, a pain control expert, and his team.
Researchers originally planned to devise hernia meshes and antimicrobial films.