A pill with a needle inside? Scientists say it can be the answer for insulin users
It has been a long-sought goal: A simple pill that diabetics can take instead of injecting insulin.
Now, a research group says they are making progress towards that goal by developing a surprising solution: a pill with a needle inside that injects insulin into the stomach.
It may be scary, but the researchers don't say to worry. They believe that because the stomach has no painkillers, it would not hurt. And the "needle" itself dissolves, while the rest of the pill passes harmlessly through the body.
The results of a team from MIT, Brigham and Women & # 39; s Hospital and Novo Nordisk were published Thursday in the journal Science. [1
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"We really hope that this new type of capsule one day could help diabetic patients and perhaps anyone who requires therapy that can now only be given by injection or infusion." MIT professor Robert Langer, one of the senior authors of the study, said in a statement.
The problem of developing a pill for insulin and for many other drugs has been that acids and bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can break down drugs before they can enter into people's systems, researchers say.
The new pill takes a physical approach instead of a chemical approach to solving the problem.
About the size of a small blueberry, the new pill contains a small needle with a tip made of compressed lyophilized insulin, which is injected into the stomach. The tip is the only sharp part of the device and absorbed by the body. After injection, the needle shaft breaks down. And the rest of the pill, which is made of polymer and stainless steel, passes harmlessly through the digestive system, the researchers say.
"The device is designed to be small enough to pass through the body without any problem," first author Alex Abramson said in an email. He noted that the US Food and Drug Administration has already approved several other pills that do not dissolve in the stomach and the new unit has a smaller volume than these pills.
The researchers stated in the statement that they had tested the device, called a "self-aligning millimeter-scale actuator" in pigs and had been able to deliver 5 milligrams of insulin, which is comparable to a dose needed by a type 2 diabetes patient.
People could take single pills or more pills.
The researchers noted that they designed the pill with a special shape to ensure that it will fall and then orient itself at the bottom of the stomach so that the needle faces the stomach, rather than the abdomen. The inspiration for the shape came from the leopard turtle found in Africa, and the shape was further refined by computer modeling.
Research continues to develop the pill.
Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women & # 39; s Hospital, also a senior author, said in the statement: "Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, especially drugs that require an injection. The classic is insulin, but there are many others. "
Outside experts, the device might say a viable solution. "It's a brand new concept and a really cool idea," said Edith Mathiowitz, a medical science and engineering professor at Brown University.
Soma sounds like something out of science fiction, Soma synthesizes a number of recent technological advances, experts said.
"What they've done is taking ideas from many areas and integrating them," said Tejal Desai, president of biotechnology and therapeutic science at the University of California San Francisco.
& # 39; & # 39; It is a very clever idea to address a very long-standing problem, says University of Pittsburgh's chemical engineer Steven Little to the Associated Press. Because the gadget goes through, the only thing that is administered to the body is this little injector. & # 39; & # 39;
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.