Some years in the past, a bunch of MIT colleagues developed a pill that was coated with tiny needles that might be used to inject medication into the liner of the abdomen or the small gut.
The researchers also had to make sure the capsule had a chance to right itself before the injection occurred. When the disk of sugar that makes up the capsule dissolves, a spring within releases a microneedle that it made of freeze-dried insulin. The shaft of the needle, which does not enter the stomach wall, is made from another biodegradable material. To accomplish this, they loaded the insulin needle onto a compressed spring that's held in place by a sugar disk.
Because of the lack of pain sensors in the stomach wall, this injection is painless. To ensure that the drug is injected into the stomach wall, the researchers designed their system so that no matter how the capsule lands in the stomach, it can orient itself so the needle is in contact with the lining of the stomach. When ingested this insulin gets injected into the stomach wall. The researchers were inspired to design the SOMA for the leopard tortoise, an African species that is able to straighten if left on its back. This tortoise has a dome like shell which is high and allows it to set itself right when it rolls on its back. Computer models were used to experiment on different shapes for the capsule that allows it to adapt to its environment.
In tests in pigs, the researchers showed that they could successfully deliver up to 300 micrograms of insulin.
"What's important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected", Abramson", said.
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 capsule is built from a biodegradable polymer and stainless-steel components.
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. The spring and the other parts of the capsule are eliminated though the digestive system without causing problems. The researchers said that this method can be adapted to administer other protein drugs.
Other authors of the paper include Ester Caffarel-Salvador, Minsoo Khang, David Dellal, David Silverstein, Yuan Gao, Morten Revsgaard Frederiksen, Andreas Vegge, Frantisek Hubalek, Jorrit Water, Anders Friderichsen, Johannes Fels, Rikke Kaae Kirk, Cody Cleveland, Joy Collins, Siddartha Tamang, Alison Hayward, Tomas Landh, Stephen Buckley, Niclas Roxhed, and Ulrik Rahbek.
A team of scientists from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, MIT, and Novo Nordisk has discovered a new way to bring closer to the clinic an oral formation of insulin, which can be ingested instead of injected.