How Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Is Used In Medical DevicesHow Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Is Used In Medical Devices

What Makes a Good Medical Device

As science moves forward scientists are finding better ways to harness what the body does naturally. Many people have heard of the supplement Hyaluronic Acid HA that you can take for joint health. HA is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. It is found most commonly in the joints and in the eyes . This substance helps to lubricate our joints and give our tissues structure.

Hyaluronic Acid is considered to be a medical device because of its physical properties. It can be used in drug delivery because of its vicso-elasticity and ideal water-binding capabilities. The same properties that make HA a good drug delivery medium also make it ideal for lubricating joints (via injection) and preventing surgical adhesions. HA also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is advantageous compared to older methods of drug delivery considering its reduced drug cytotoxicity because it can effectively deliver drugs to target cells.

HA is an incredible in that its chemical structure is so straightforward that it can be altered into a number of drug delivery mediums. To date it can already be used in a wide array of ways such as nanocarriers, micelles, cross-linked HA molecules, hydrogels, powders, mini-pellets, implants, sponges, films and conjugates. HA can also be administered through a variety of ways without problems.

Advancing Artificial Drug Delivery Mediums

Recently, a company called Novozymes Biopharma pioneered a way to make HA artificially. Their patented artificial HA has superior heat stability. It also has a much faster dissolution time than competitors' products. Novozymes has also created a reliable product that is consistent batch to batch and ships from a large-scale facility. Instead of animal derived tissues and solvents Novozymes uses the bacteria Bacillus-subtillis in the production of Hyaluronic Acid. This was revolutionary in the industry and the company was recognized for the achievement.

The HA produced by Novozymes Biopharma is so unique that it has won an award. The company took home the Innovation Award's first place at the CPhI worldwide exhibition. The contest was impressed that the bacteria used to make the Sodium HA did not produce any endotoxins or exotoxins. The water-based production process also impressed the judges as it emphasized the eco-friendly nature of the product.

Novozymes showcased how HA can be used in ophthalmology during the Joint Congress of SOE and AAO occurring June 4-7, 2011. The company highlighted the purity of their HA solutions. The HA product for eyes has shown superior stability during autoclaving in addition to being extremely pure with high biocompatibility. Overall, it proved that their HA is a superior choice for drug delivery to the eyes.

Drug Delivery Moving Forward

Artificial HA is joining the ranks of other drug delivery devices such as Recombumin. It is an artificial form of albumin that is approved for use with Merck and Co.'s M-M-R II vaccine. Recombumin has extended the half-life of the biopeptides in the product and thus extended the life of the vaccine. This has made the bioavailability of the vaccine increase as well. It is just another case where artificial drug delivery systems are getting better.

In less than a decade we have seen a new way to create Hyaluronic Acid HA. One company is even pushing the limits of what you can do with the device. It will now be used to deliver eye medication in a more affective way than previous delivery methods. What it will be used for next, time will only tell.
by Jenny Hall
References and Bibliography
Jenny Hall writes enthusiastically about all things science and pharmaceuticals. She could be considered a qualified consultant on scientific topics such as human recombinant albumin (ralbumin) and the role of hyaluronic acid in stabilising formulations and manufacturing devices. Please visit for more details on Hyaluronic Acid (HA) in medical devices.
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