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Cyber Tummy

Virtual stomach offers information about extended-release medications

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Here's some easy-to-stomach research.

Penn State mechanical engineers have developed the first computer-generated virtual stomach, which provides insight into how a real stomach breaks down the medicine in extended-release pills.

Many medications come in extended-release form, but many details of about what happens to those pills in the stomach are unknown, the Penn State researchers say.

Their virtual stomach demonstrated that pill motion and mixing are sensitive to the location of the pill in the stomach, as well as the coordination between the stomach's contractions and the opening and closing of the valve leading to the intestines.

"We can simulate the tablet breaking down with our new approach, watch the slow release of medication happen in a computer movie and analyze the process," says project leader James G. Brasseur, a professor of mechanical engineering.

"Computer simulation allows us to 'control' the stomach and therefore provides more detail than you could get with human or even animal experiments. In fact, computer simulation may be the only way to observe the stomach's mechanical processes in such fine detail," Brasseur says.

The information provided by the virtual stomach could help in the design of new extended-release pill formulations. It may also offer new insight into diseases involving stomach motility and a better understanding of basic gastric function.

The mechanical engineers developed the virtual stomach with the assistance of medical and pharmaceutical researchers.

Dr. Anupam Pal, the first author of the team's report, was to present the results at this week's meeting of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility in Tubingen, Germany.

More information

Here's where to go to learn more about your stomach.

SOURCE: Penn State University, news release, Oct. 4, 2002
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