April 26 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a new approach to make commonly used pain medications last longer than the typical four- to six-hour duration.
A common complaint about over-the-counter pain medications is that the doses last only four to six hours and need to be taken multiple times throughout the day if pain persists.
Researchers at Northwestern University were trying to find ways to reduce the time required for maximum uptake and increase the half-life of ibuprofen, one of the most common over-the-counter pain relievers on the market.
The method utilizes compounds called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, which consist of metal ions linked to organic ligands for drug delivery.
MOFs, which are porous, can be used to package active ingredients in pain medications. MOFs can also be water soluble, which makes them good candidates as drug delivery systems.
Researchers loaded therapeutically relevant concentrations of ibuprofen into biocompatible MOFs with cyclodextrin and alkali metal cations and administered them to mice.
The study found the compounds reached the blood stream quickly -- about 10 to 20 minutes -- and lasted twice as long as ibuprofen salts, which are the active ingredient in common over-the-counter liquid gel formulas.
Researchers hope this discovery will lead to a faster drug delivery system used in over-the-counter pain medications in the future.
The study was published in Molecular Pharmaceutics.