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Insulin in a pill from MIT researchers
09 February 2019, 10:11 | Silvia Roy
Insulin in a pill from MIT researchers
Daily insulin injections given to people with diabetes may disappear in the future thanks to a capsule that releases insulin directly into the stomach, a technique that has been tested so far in pigs, according to a report published by the "Science" journal.
The pea-sized capsule contains a small needle made of solid, compressed insulin, which is injected into the stomach wall after the capsule has been swallowed.
In tests on animals, an MIT-led research group showed they could deliver enough insulin to lower blood sugar to levels comparable to those produced by doses administered through skin.
They also demonstrated that the device can be adapted to "deliver other protein drugs".
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. For the brand new capsule, the researchers modified the design to have only one needle, permitting them to keep away from injecting medicine into the inside of the abdomen, the place they'd be damaged down by abdomen acids earlier than having any impact.
Once the insulin was absorbed, the capsule, made of stainless steel and a biodegradable material, floated free and was excreted. The mechanism works by releasing a spring which is freed by dissolving a supporting sugar disk (water within the stomach causes the sugar disk to dissolve).
Because of the lack of pain sensors in the stomach wall, this injection is painless. To make sure that the drug is injected into the abdomen wall, the researchers designed their system so that irrespective of how the capsule lands within the abdomen, it may well orient itself, so the needle is involved with the liner of the stomach. And ever since, researchers have been attempting to find ways to deliver insulin orally without any success. When ingested this insulin gets injected into the stomach wall. "Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection", " Traverso said. "Although we need to investigate further, this could be a potential way to deliver many medications such as immune-suppressants to treat rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel diseases", said Traverso.
The researchers drew their inspiration for the self-orientation feature from a tortoise known as the leopard tortoise. U.S. 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.
"What's important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected", Abramson", said.
Once the contents from the capsule are released, it passes through the digestive system without any side effects.
One pill can reportedly deliver as much as 300 micrograms of insulin in one shot.
This work was funded in part by a Novo Nordisk grant, NIH Grant No. EB-000244, an NSF GRFP fellowship, the Division of Gastroenterology at Brigham and Woman's Hospital, the Viking Olaf Björk scholarship trust, and the MIT UROP program.
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