In­sulin pill for di­a­bet­ics may re­place shots

In­no­va­tive new de­sign con­sists of biodegrad­able cap­sule that in­jects the hor­mone di­rectly into the stom­ach wall

The New Indian Express - - XPLORE -

BOS­TON: Sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped a drug cap­sule that could be used to de­liver oral doses of in­sulin, paving the way for re­plac­ing the painful in­jec­tions that di­a­bet­ics have to give them­selves ev­ery day. About the size of a blue­berry, the cap­sule con­tains a small nee­dle made of com­pressed in­sulin, which is in­jected af­ter the cap­sule reaches the stom­ach. In tests in an­i­mals, the re­searchers showed that they could de­liver enough in­sulin to lower blood sugar to lev­els com­pa­ra­ble to those pro­duced by in­jec­tions given through skin. The study, pub­lished in Sci­ence, also demon­strated that the de­vice can be adapted to de­liver other pro­tein drugs. “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,” said Robert Langer, from the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT). The tip of the nee­dle is made of nearly 100 per cent com­pressed, freeze-dried in­sulin, us­ing the same process used to form tablets of medicine. The shaft of the nee­dle, which does not en­ter the stom­ach wall, is made from an­other biodegrad­able ma­te­rial. Within the cap­sule, the nee­dle is at­tached to a com­pressed spring that is held in place by a disk made of sugar. When the cap­sule is swal­lowed, wa­ter in the stom­ach dis­solves the sugar disk, re­leas­ing the spring and in­ject­ing the nee­dle into the stom­ach wall. The stom­ach wall has no pain re­cep­tors, so the re­searchers be­lieve that pa­tients would not be able to feel the in­jec­tion. 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. “As soon as you take it, you want the sys­tem to self-right so that you can en­sure con­tact with the tis­sue,” said Gio­vanni Traverso, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Brigham and Women’s Hospi­tal at Har­vard Med­i­cal School in the US. Once the tip of the nee­dle is in­jected into the stom­ach wall, the in­sulin dis­solves at a rate that can be con­trolled by the re­searchers as the cap­sule is pre­pared. In tests in pigs, the re­searchers showed that they could suc­cess­fully de­liver up to 300 mi­cro­grams of in­sulin. More re­cently, they have been able to in­crease the dose to 5 mil­ligrams, which is com­pa­ra­ble to the amount that a pa­tient with type 2 di­a­betes would need to in­ject. “Our mo­ti­va­tion is to make it eas­ier for pa­tients to take med­i­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly med­i­ca­tions that re­quire an in­jec­tion,” Traverso said.

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