Novel oral colon-specific drug delivery systems for pharmacotherapy of peptide and nonpeptide drugs. Academic Article uri icon


  • The increasing number of peptide and protein drugs being investigated demands the development of dosage forms which exhibit site-specific release. Delivery of drugs into systemic circulation through colonic absorption represents a novel mode of introducing peptide and protein drug molecules and drugs that are poorly absorbed from the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Oral colon-specific drug delivery systems offer obvious advantages over parenteral administration. Colon targeting is naturally of value for the topical treatment of diseases of the colon such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer. Sustained colonic release of drugs can be useful in the treatment of nocturnal asthma, angina and arthritis. Peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides and vaccines are the potential candidates of interest for colon-specific drug delivery. Sulfasalazine, ipsalazide and olsalazine have been developed as colon-specific delivery systems for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The vast microflora and distinct enzymes present in the colon are being increasingly exploited to release drugs in the colon. Although the large intestine is a potential site for absorption of drugs, some difficulties are involved in the effective local delivery of drugs to the colon bypassing the stomach and small intestine. Furthermore, differential pH conditions and long transit time during the passage of drug formulations from mouth to colon create numerous technical difficulties in the safe delivery of drugs to the colon. However, recent developments in pharmaceutical technology, including coating drugs with pH-sensitive and bacterial degradable polymers, embedding in bacterial degradable matrices and designing into prodrugs, have provided renewed hope to effectively target drugs to the colon. The use of pH changes is analogous to the more common enteric coating and consists of employing a polymer with an appropriate pH solubility profile. The concept of using pH as a trigger to release a drug in the colon is based on the pH conditions that vary continuously down the GI tract. Polysaccharide and azopolymer coating, which is refractory in the stomach and small intestine yet degraded by the colonic bacteria, have been used as carriers for colon-specific targeting. Finally, the availability of optimal preclinical models and clinical methods fueled the rapid development and evaluation of colon-specific drug delivery systems for clinical use. Future studies may hopefully lead to further refinements in the technology of colon-specific drug delivery systems and improve the pharmacotherapy of peptide drugs.

published proceedings

  • Drugs Today (Barc)

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Reddy, S. M., Sinha, V. R., & Reddy, D. S.

citation count

  • 71

complete list of authors

  • Reddy, SM||Sinha, VR||Reddy, DS

publication date

  • July 1999