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Na Li, PhD

Faculty Starter Grant in Drug Delivery, 2022 University of Connecticut

Improving Our Understanding of Drug Absorption with Colloid Drug Particles


Most oral drugs and drug candidates suffer from poor water solubility. Drugs must be soluble to permeate the intestinal wall and get absorbed into the body. Colloid drug particles (nanosized drug-containing particles) can promote absorption and therefore offer an attractive formulation strategy to enhance drugs’ oral bioavailability, or the extent and rate at which drugs enter circulation and reach their target destination in the body. However, the mechanisms and extent of enhanced absorption of colloid-containing formulations remain poorly understood. The goal of this project is to better understand factors affecting the permeation and absorption of colloid formulations. First, we will investigate the impact of drug and colloidal properties on passive permeation in vitro (outside a living organism). Next, we will use rats as an animal model to examine the absorption of model formulations in vivo (in a living organism) and establish in vitro-in vivo relationships. Finally, we will explore materials to envelop the particles to facilitate active transport of drugs and promote permeability. Results from this project are expected to lead to improved bioavailability prediction and design of colloid-containing formulations, and ultimately help improve drug absorption and patient health outcomes.

I am very grateful to receive the PhRMA Foundation grant, which allowed me to dive deep into the fundamental science behind the phenomenon of enhanced absorption by drug particles. The work I have done with this grant has already resulted in several conference abstracts, a research manuscript in preparation, and a graduate student award.