Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David Puleo


Mucoadhesive drug delivery systems which are being used from 1980’s to avoid first pass metabolism of drugs, commercially exist for only systemic drug delivery with fast erosion times (15-60 min), that may not be appropriate for local oral disorders. The goal of this research was to develop and characterize mucoadhesive films with flexibility of carrying different drugs and proteins and provide sustained release for local treatment of oral disorders.

Mucoadhesive films composed of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and carboxymethlycellulose (CMC) were formulated with imiquimod, an immune response modifier. Problems such as solubilization of imiquimod to increase drug loading, uniformity in films and total amount of drug released into supernatants were addressed by use of acetate buffer after investigating multiple methods.

Subsequently, other relevant properties of mucoadhesive systems, such as adhesion (shear, pull-off), tensile properties, swelling profiles, transport kinetics, and subsequent changes in release profiles as a function of film composition were characterized. The potential of the system for local retention of imiquimod, determined in oral mucosa of hamsters showed time dependent decrease in imiquimod amount through 12 hours, with no traces of drug in blood. Further testing in humans revealed that the residence time of the mucoadhesive films depended on the application site, increasing in the order of tongue < cheek < gingiva.

In parallel, mucoadhesive films loaded with epidermal growth factor (EGF) were developed to promote treatment of oral mucosal wounds. Bioactivity was tested in vitro on buccal tissues by creating a wound followed by application of films. Although EGF-loaded films did not accelerate wound healing, but rather elicited a hyperparakeratotic response. In vitro buccal tissues may not be appropriate for testing the effects of EGF in wound healing without incorporation of other biochemical factors.

Overall, a mucoadhesive system capable of delivering bioactive small molecules and proteins in sustained manner was developed in this work. A thorough understanding of the system properties was achieved to further tune for future applications. In vitro studies and in vivo studies in hamsters and humans clearly showed the potential and usefulness of the system to translate in to clinic for treatment of oral precancerous lesions.

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