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Smart Polymers to Reduce Alcohol Absorption into Systemic Circulation

Grant Winners

  • Hossein Omidian, PhD – College of Pharmacy
  • Umadevi Kandalam, PhD – College of Dental Medicine
  • David Mastropietro, BS – College of Pharmacy


  • Andres Malave, PhD – College of Pharmacy
  • Robert Uchin, DDS – College of Dental Medicine


Award Winners

Consumption of alcohol is a major public health concern associated with significant costs and high rates of mortality. This project will be examining a novel way to decrease the side effects associated with alcohol abuse by reducing ethanol absorption in the stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract. Alcohol absorption can potentially be reduced by utilizing smart polymers which can absorb ethanol by reacting to different gastrointestinal pHs. Entrapment within the polymer structure greatly reduces alcohol mobility and slows further absorption. Polymers of this study have a potential to partially absorb ethanol or hydro-alcoholic solutions in the stomach before entering the small intestines. Moreover, these smart hydrogels can react to the higher pH change encountered upon exiting the stomach, which causes them to expand their structure. As a result, more alcohol or hydro-alcoholic liquids would be entrapped specifically at the site where maximum alcohol absorption occurs within the intestine. In this research, potential polymers will be first evaluated for their capacity to absorb alcohol under different gastrointestinal conditions and then further assessed for their cytotoxicity. Assuming that the implications associated with alcohol abuse are due to ethanol's ability to be absorbed quickly and to a large extent into the body, this approach will potentially reduce the side effects accompanying alcohol consumption and abuse. Since the issue is worldwide, preliminary findings will have the potential to attract funds from federal and worldwide organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for further development.

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