Found painless alternative to insulin injections

Novel pill could replace injections to deliver insulin says study

A new study shows that scientists have developed a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin, potentially replacing injections for patients with Type-2 diabetes.

If you had a choice between injecting yourself with your medication or swallowing a capsule that contained your medication compressed into a needle which would you choose? The same capsule can also be adapted to deliver other protein drugs.

Several years ago, Traverso, Langer, and their colleagues developed a pill coated with many tiny needles that could be used to inject drugs into the lining of the stomach or the small intestine. The needle's shaft is built from a biodegradable material that doesn't enter the stomach wall. To power it, researchers bound a tiny spring to a hardened sugar disk. As the stomach wall does not possess pain receptors the researchers are hopeful that this could be a preferable method of administration compared to traditional injection. The researchers changed the new capsule so it has just one needle so that the drugs aren't injected into the stomach's insides and broken down by acids before they could have any effect. And for long time researchers have pursued a way to orally control insulin. The insulin needle then injects insulin through the stomach lining; the insulin is then absorbed into the blood stream.

In a news release, the MIT scientists said that the mechanism is inspired by the leopard tortoise, found in Africa. The leopard tortoise has an unusual shaped shell that looks like a high dome, if the tortoise rolls over, the shape of its shells ensures it can always easily self-right.

The group created computer models to design a variant of the shape for their capsule, which allows it to orient itself even in the stomach.

Injectable drugs, such as insulin and other large proteins, can be lifesavers.

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"Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection", said senior author Giovanni Traverso.

The research in pigs has successfully delivered up to 5 milligrams of insulin, comparable to the amount a type 2 diabetic patients would need to inject.

In addition, the oral device, also called SOMA, is capable of self-orienting, thanks to its shape and distribution of its density, so that the micro-needle is injected correctly into the stomach.

The researchers describe the capsule as "about the size of a pea" and made from biodegradable polymer and bits of stainless steel.

After the capsule releases its contents, it can pass harmlessly through the digestive system.

Other authors of this study include Alex Abramson, Ester Caffarel-Salvador, Minsoo Khang, David Dellal, David Silverstein, Yuan Gao, Morten Revsgaard Frederiksen, Andreas Vegge, František Hubálek, Jorrit J. Water, Anders V. Friderichsen, Johannes Fels, Rikke Kaae Kirk, Cody Cleveland, Joy Collins, Siddartha Tamang, Alison Hayward, Tomas Landh, Stephen T. Buckley, Niclas Roxhed, and Ulrik Rahbek. MIT teamed up with pharmaceutical company Norvo Nordisk for the research.



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