Image of Prof. Joachim Loo and LiberaTx CEO Dr. Shashi Kesavapany holding the once-daily pill.
Prof. Joachim Loo (left) and LiberaTx CEO Dr. Shashi Kesavapany holding engineered pill samples. Photo credit: NTU Singapore

Drug developers from Singapore are set to test a levodopa pill designed to be taken once daily, potentially resolving the problem of symptom flares between doses in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Levodopa commonly is prescribed to treat tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement in Parkinson’s. Multiple oral doses may be needed each day and at set times to keep drug levels steady. The new pill’s microcapsule is designed to float in the stomach, slowly and continuously delivering levodopa into the upper intestine throughout the day for improved absorption, said Joachim Loo, Ph.D., from Nanyang Technological University.

“This is key in maintaining the drug’s concentration in the blood, so that dopamine levels in the brain are kept constant over prolonged periods rather than fluctuating, which is the case for current tablets,” Loo explained.

The developers have created a start-up company, LiberaTx, to commercialize the microcapsule and are planning clinical trials in Singapore to test its efficacy.

“We hope that by reducing dosage to just once a day would greatly improve patient compliance, lower the pill burden of these patients, while alleviating the ‘off’ periods that these patients experience,” Loo said.  

An early study using multiple Parkinson’s drugs was published in Small, a weekly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering nanotechnology.