Gastrointestinal transit in the common brushtail possum measured by gamma scintigraphy

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This paper reports an example of the application of pharmaceutical technology to wildlife management, specifically the design of an oral delivery system for the common brushtail possum in New Zealand. Designing an oral delivery system requires a knowledge of the time taken for particulates to reach target sites within the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The transit time for fluid and indigestible particles of two different size ranges was determined in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). Technetium-labelled (99mTc) anion exchange resin particles (75–125 or 500–700 μm diameter) or solution (99mTc-labelled diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid, 99mTc-DTPA) was administered orally. At predetermined times after dosing (3, 6, 12, 24 or 32 h), the distribution of radioactivity throughout excised gastrointestinal tracts was determined by gamma scintigraphy. The transit profile was similar for the three formulations investigated. Unlike other closely related hindgut fermenting marsupials, there was no evidence to support the presence of a colonic separating mechanism in the common brushtail possum. Gastrointestinal transit was independent of body mass, gender and time of day that the dose is given. To target the hindgut for oral delivery of protein and peptide biocontrol agents, the formulation would need to protect the bioactive for approximately 12 h prior to release.

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