New model to predict drug absorption reduces need for animal testing


In a new thesis, Vicky Barmpatsalou, PhD student at SweDeliver, introduces new in vitro models to cost-effectively identify which drug candidates are best suited for oral delivery and absorption in the large intestine.

Vicky Barmpatsalou, PhD student, SweDeliver
Vicky Barmpatsalou, PhD student, SweDeliver

Orally delivered drugs come with numerous advantages, not least for the patient who can comfortably swallow their prescribed tablets. Unfortunately, the absorption of the active substances is often complicated by the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract with barriers that protect us from bacteria and harmful substances. Our knowledge of its properties is largely based on studies of mice and rats, but in the new thesis Understanding the gastrointestinal mucus and its impact on drug absorption, Vicky Barmpatsalou, PhD student at Uppsala University and SweDeliver, introduces a new model that has considerably more in common with human physiology.

Vicky Barmpatsalou in the SweDeliver lab
Vicky Barmpatsalou in the SweDeliver lab

“Several potential drugs that are currently in development show low solubility, and to enable absorption in the large intestine requires alternative formulations. Using waste tissue from a local abattoir, we have developed artificial in vitro models to test which drug characteristics are most favorable to permeate through the mucus. They are cost-effective, show at an early stage which drug candidates are best suited to proceed forward toward clinical studies and will, not least, contribute to reducing the need for animal testing.”

You have conducted your work within SweDeliver, what values has it added to your research?

“It has definitely fulfilled all my expectations. I knew from the start that Uppsala University's research environment in Drug Delivery is ranked among the world's foremost, and to receive additional input from the center's industrial partners has continuously provided relevant perspectives to my progress. Also, working in an interdisciplinary environment with several other junior researchers has given me the privilege to follow several other interesting projects up close and just as many occasions to practice explaining and making my own research available to others.”

What other experiences will you bring with you into your future career?

“The activities in SweDeliver's work package Training and Career Development have provided enormous value. I am thinking, among many things, about the mentoring program which has given me important guidance for my future professional life, as well as the Twinning program which gave me the opportunity to visit the University of South Australia where I got to work with new methodologies and experience another academic environment.”

With your PhD thesis defence just around the corner, what have you appreciated most about SweDeliver?

“Many things come to mind, but, if I have to choose one thing, I must mention the strong ties in the network SweDeliver is developing between academia and industry, which have added several perspectives that has helped to broaden my research.”

Finally, what advice can you give other young researchers about to join the centre?

“SweDeliver is a great environment to grow scientifically that offers many opportunities for personal development. So, be active and make the most of your potential!”


  • Vicky Barmpatsalou defends her thesis at BMC, hall A1:111a, Husargatan 3, Friday 17 March, at 09.15.



Vicky Barmpatsalou, PhD student
SweDeliver, Uppsala University

text: Magnus Alsne, pfoto: Mikael Wallerstedt

Currently at SweDeliver

Last modified: 2022-11-16