MIT scientists develop a drug capsule that can deliver oral insulin

MIT scientists develop a drug capsule that can deliver oral insulin

MIT scientists develop a drug capsule that can deliver oral insulin

Vaccinations, insulin injections, or intravenous drips could one day be replaced by smart pills that inject the medicine directly into your stomach.

Next the team designed a micro-injector, like a needle only made of dried insulin compressed into a sharp point.

Next, the researchers measured how much insulin passed into the animals' blood and glucose levels before and after the experiment. Also, the MIT-led team found that the technique can used to deliver other protein drugs too.

Other authors of the study had, several years ago, developed a pill coated with many tiny needles that could be used to inject drugs into the stomach's lining or the small intestine.

"The scientific principles underlying the SOMA system, and the system itself, have the potential to enable oral delivery of large molecules such as peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids", said co-corresponding author Robert Langer, Institute Professor from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. The tip of the needle is built of nearly 100 percent compressed, freeze-dried insulin. The shaft of the needle, which does not enter the stomach wall, is made from another biodegradable material.

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They've since whittled that design down to just one needle, attached to a spring, held in place by a sugar disk.

When swallowed, water in the stomach dissolves the sugar disk, releases the spring, injecting the needle into the stomach wall. The article further notes the stomach lining is almost nerve free, so patients will feel no pain from this delivery mechanism. Therefore, the researchers needed to ensure that their little insulin needles would only inject into the wall of the stomach, rather than randomly be released.

The researchers are able to control the rate that insulin dissolves when they prepare the capsule. So, they turned to an unlikely animal for inspiration: the leopard tortoise.

In tests in pigs, the researchers showed that they could successfully deliver up to 300 micrograms of insulin. United States scientist based the pill's design on the African leopard tortoise which has a shell with a high, steep dome, allowing it to right itself if it rolls onto its back. The pill is a variant of its shape made using computer modelling since it allows the capsule to reorient itself in the stomach.

"What's important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected", Abramson says.

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Scientists at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston designed this pill, which consists of a biodegradable capsule the size of a chickpea containing an insulin microneedle, according to a press release from the United States center.

"Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection", said the paper's co-author Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a visiting scientist at MIT. "Also, if a person were to move around or the stomach was to growl, the device would not move from its preferred orientation".

The metal spring and rest of the capsule passed through the digestive system, without seeming to cause any problems. The MIT team is now collaborating with Novo Nordisk for further study and product development to make it available in pharmacies at the soonest time.

"Instead of liquid, we wanted to make it solid because you can fit a lot more in the pill in solid form than in liquid", said Dr Traverso.

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