Oral option may soon replace vitamin B12 shots

June 18th, 2008 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 18 (IANS) An oral option may soon replace 40 million intra-muscular injections required for treating vitamin B12 deficiency among patients every year. At present, physicians rely on shots for people with vitamin B12 deficiency because of the poor record of oral formulations.

Only about one percent of a vitamin B12 tablet is absorbed after travelling through the digestive tract.

But a new oral formulation developed by Emisphere Technologies claims an absorption rate of between seven and 30 percent.

“Our current studies have shown our oral solid formulation brings vitamin B12 absorption to a range of seven to 30 percent without the discomfort of an invasive route of administration,” said researcher Cristina Castelli.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anaemia, dementia and reduced cognitive functioning, which afflicts millions of people worldwide.

This includes a sizable number of severely deficient patients currently undergoing treatment. Besides, vast numbers unaware of this deficiency will eventually need treatment.

The elderly and strict vegetarians are most at risk from the disease, which shows up with symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss.

The company has completed animal testing of its formulation and is now conducting human studies.

The findings so far are slated to presented Thursday at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists’ National Biotechnology Conference in Toronto.

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