Oral insulin capsule developed to replace injections for diabetes patients

09 February, 2019, 22:12 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Pill Could Replace Insulin Injection for Patients with Diabetes

Many people with diabetes are forced daily to do 3-6 injections of insulin to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Additionally, they demonstrated that the gadget would be tailored to ship different protein medicine.

"We are really hopeful that this new type of capsule could someday help diabetic patients and perhaps anyone who requires therapies that can now only be given by injection or infusion", study co-author Robert Langer, of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, said in a statement. "Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection", Traverso says.

The researchers also had to make sure the capsule had a chance to right itself before the injection occurred. The tip of the needle is made of 100% compressed, freeze-dried insulin. The needle's shaft is built from a biodegradable material that doesn't enter the stomach wall. The needle is attached to a compressed spring that is restrained by a disk made from sugar. Once it's swallowed, the sugar disk dissolves and releases the spring injecting the needle into the stomach wall. The stomach wall has no pain receptors.

Their ingestible device, known as the Self-orienting Millimeter Scale Applicator (SOMA), is inspired by the self-orienting leopard tortoise. The researchers used computer modeling to come up with a variant of this shape for their capsule, which allows it to reorient itself even in the dynamic environment of the stomach.

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

Oral insulin capsule developed to replace injections for diabetes patients

One problem scientist still face before bringing tiny injector to the masses: it now works best on an empty stomach, but they're still working on it.

"The way this works is it travels down the esophagus in seconds, it's in the stomach within a few minutes, and then you get the drug", said Dr. Giovanni Traverso, the study's senior author who worked with a team from MIT and insulin maker Novo Nordisk.

The study, coordinated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been carried out so far only with fasting pigs, to which they first administered doses of 0.3 mg and after 5 mg of insulin, a similar amount to which patients with type 2 diabetes are injected. The spring and the other parts of the capsule are eliminated though the digestive system without causing problems.

The researchers describe the capsule as "about the size of a pea" and made from biodegradable polymer and bits of stainless steel. A team of investigators from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, MIT, and Novo Nordisk has pioneered a new approach that brings closer to the clinic an oral formulation of insulin that can be swallowed rather than injected. The group believes that it can be used to treat more than diabetes to include inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also work for nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. He explained that taking insulin injections daily can be a painful ordeal for diabetics.

The device, detailed in a paper published this week by the journal Science, could also be adapted to deliver other protein drugs.

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