HSC researcher receives $1.8 million grant for work on technology to enhance oral absorption of water-insoluble drugs

Dr. Xiaowei DongXiaowei Dong, Associate Professor and P1 Curriculum Director at HSC College of Pharmacy, was recently awarded the Maximizing Investigators’ Resource Award (MIRA-R35) to continue her research into technologies that improve the effectiveness of oral drugs.

Dr. Dong received the five-year, $1.8 million award from National Institutes of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. 

An estimated 40% of approved drugs and nearly 90% of the developmental pipeline drugs consist of poorly water-soluble molecules, Dr. Dong said. Oral administration is the most favorable and preferred route.

Previously, Dr. Dong worked as a lead formulator in drug product development at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, where her projects were related to water-insoluble compounds. 

Although there were several oral special delivery systems available for water-insoluble compounds, we still faced limited technology options,” she said. “Without effective drug delivery systems for poorly water-soluble drugs, development of oral formulations of molecules are often abandoned nevertheless having strong therapeutic potentials.

Moreover, many marketed oral drugs have poor water solubility and are commonly associated with low bioavailability and patient variability.

As an expert in lipid nanoparticles, Dr. Dong observed their advantages for drug delivery. However, a hurdle in using lipid nanoparticles in oral solid dosage forms was low drug loading, meaning the final solid form would have a small amount of drug after nanoparticles were converted to solid forms.

When I came back to academia in 2013, I dedicated myself to research in this area.  In 2015, I discovered in situ self-assembled nanoparticles (ISNP),” Dr. Dong said. 

This award is based on this nanotechnology to advance formulation technology for water-insoluble drugs, she said. 

With this novel nanotechnology, we are able to produce drug solid nanoformulations with high drug loading,” Dr. Dong said. “We found many special features about this nanotechnology. 

Dr. Dong, who earned a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky, collaborates with other research efforts. 

“The ISNP nanotechnology is the main focus in my lab now,” she said. “(But) because my research is about formulation technology, I can use it for different drugs to treat different diseases. Currently, I collaborate with other researchers on the treatments of lung disease, cancers and diabetes.”

Dr. Dong said research on formulation and drug delivery is creative work.

“We need to customize each formulation according to the properties of one particular drug,” she said. “This research is also very challenging because we have to constantly change compositions, technology and procedures to provide the best formulation for one drug.” 

Recent News

A6db708d 247f 429b 8828 578ae70ec5eb
  • Our People
|May 16, 2024

Inspirational students part of HSC’s Class of 2024

A former Fort Worth tactical medic, a first-generation college student graduating as an osteopathic physician, a labor and delivery nurse, and a couple becoming physical therapists together are just a few of the inspirational students who will walk the stage during HSC’s commencement ceremony on W...
Img 4034
  • Our People
|May 16, 2024

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health brings inaugural community outreach event to HSC campus

On May 8, the School of Public Health at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, collaborated with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health to bring public health advocates together both virtually and in-person. The event, titled “Framing the Future...
2780b0a9 4611 4003 B866 657551d3b26f
  • Our People
|May 15, 2024

Faculty highlight: Dr. Jehad Alzyoud

Dr. Alzyoud is an assistant professor within The University of Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Department of Physical Therapy. He teaches the neurological rehabilitation course series. “My research is focused on understanding human balance, particularly how sitting balance impairment foll...
Karen Middle
  • Our People
|May 15, 2024

Personalized Health and Well-Being graduate pivots to altruistic career path

Karen Smith was walking around the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s annual conference in 2022 in Orlando, Florida, when she came across The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s booth. Smith, a registered dietician for almost 20 years, had already decided she wa...