A Kelowna-based biotech company is leading the way in how our bodies process medication, helping to make hypertension and antiviral medications more effective.
Lexaria Bioscience develops technology that can be used to make different medications work more effectively. CEO Chris Bunka said Lexaria’s leading technology is called DehydraTECH, which helps the body “alter” the way it detects the drug while it’s in a person’s gastrointestinal system.
“What happens is DehydraTECH allows the drug to take a shortcut and bypass the liver, get in your lymphatic system and drop into blood circulation,” he said.
“That’s really the secret behind our speed and efficacy in delivering a bigger fraction of the drug into your bloodstream.”
This means that not only does the drug get into a person’s bloodstream faster, but a higher proportion of it is actually used. When this happens, Bunka added that this also means there are fewer side effects.
“One of the reasons people hate taking any drugs is side effects. It might cause diarrhea, headaches, sleepiness… but because (with DehydraTECH) we can use a smaller quantity of drug to achieve the same result, side effects go down.”
DehydraTECH is already available in limited quantities, mostly in the U.S. and mainly used for oral cannabinoids. Now, Lexaria is studying how it can use DehydraTECH for oral nicotine, hypertension medication, as well as COVID-19 antiviral medication.
If the technology is used for treatment, that would mean a more affordable hypertension drug that is safe and easily accessible for more people.
So how does Lexaria’s technology work?
It involves combining an active pharmaceutical ingredient with fatty acid oil, then mixing it with a common carrier ingredient like tapioca starch or gum arabic. Then, the DehydraTECH process is applied, which results in a powder or liquid, which can then be used in a pill, tablet or oil.
Bunka said they are holding three clinical trials for hypertension medication in Europe this year.
“We’re filling up our binders and creating lots of data and information… so when we knock on the doors of Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, we can show them what we can do with their drugs,” he said.
Hypertension may be their focus for now, but Bunka added he hopes their work with antivirals can also help people who need it, especially in areas where COVID-19 vaccinations are low.
“No matter where you are, there is no way that all the people in these populations will be vaccinated,” he said.
“Because of that, there will always be a need to treat people who have come down with COVID, so we’re working on a number of drugs to treat COVID symptoms.”
Once trials for Lexaria’s hypertension medication are finished, it will be submitted for approval and be made available in the U.S. first.