Research @ KGI: Vivek Gupta Goes in Search of Painless and Innovative Drug Delivery
Vivek Gupta, PhD, says he has "seen the agony of my family members struggling with insulin injections" and hopes that the innovations in drug delivery he is working on will not only offer therapeutic benefits following a drug's administration, but also provide a sustained and controlled release, resulting in reduced dosing frequency.
"This approach will result in improved dose adherence and patient compliance with the therapeutic regimen," says Gupta, who joined KGI this past July as an assistant professor of biopharmaceutical sciences in KGI's new School of Pharmacy.
In his KGI laboratory, Gupta and his research group are currently concentrating on new therapies for both diabetes and pulmonary disorders.
A recent article appearing in the Journal of Controlled Release, an official publication of the Controlled Release Society, spotlights Gupta's research. In its findings, Gupta and his co-authors demonstrate the feasibility of a capsule-like device which could orally deliver salmon calcitonin, a drug used for postmenopausal osteoporosis, which otherwise must be injected and has lost its therapeutic appeal despite its tremendous potential. When in the intestine, these devices release small drug-loaded discs, which have the capability to adhere to the intestinal wall and to release the drug into the bloodstream.
"This has the potential to revolutionize the current treatment modalities for several life-threatening diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, by eliminating the need for needles to administer medications, including insulin," he explains.
Gupta hopes to develop a buccal (cheek cavity) microneedle-based insulin delivery device for improving compliance among both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients, especially teenagers, who can have trouble sticking to a routine. The device will be made of biodegradable polymers, and can be inserted into the lining of the cheeks with minimal force, taking advantage of the rich blood vessel supply for systemic delivery of anti-diabetic therapy.
Gupta is also developing a nanoparticle-based, noninvasive inhalation therapy for respiratory disorders such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis-a disease in which tissue in the lungs becomes thick, stiff or scarred over time. Thus far, the effectiveness of such therapies has been limited by their ability to reach the deep lung regions.
"In addition to these disease areas," he says, "we are also interested in developing nanotechnology-based therapeutic interventions for infectious diseases, and in investigating novel targets to provide localized and individualized therapy for rare diseases."
A native of India, Gupta received his undergraduate degree in biopharmaceutical sciences from Jamia Hamdard in New Delhi in 2003, and his PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, with a specialization in pharmaceutics, from Texas Tech University in 2010. While a research assistant at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), he focused on developing novel inhalable therapies for pulmonary arterial hypertension and other respiratory disorders. Gupta did his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the Department of Chemical Engineering, where he conducted research in pharmaceutics and drug delivery systems, including oral delivery of peptides and transdermal delivery of siRNA and other therapeutic agents using cell-penetrating peptides.
For Gupta, whose hours outside of work are spent with his wife exploring new sights and anticipating the birth of their first child, his research path that he initially chose based on a professor's recommendation has proven to be one in which he believes he will be able to make a difference to the many people who experience difficulties with conventional therapeutics.
"I want to translate my work into a real-world solution," says Gupta.