Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Diabetes Pill Releases Insulin In The Gut Without Painful Injections

Diabetes Pill Releases Insulin In The Gut Without Painful Injections

Once in the stomach the microneedle is decompressed causing the insulin to be injected into the lining of the stomach.

Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School-affiliated Brigham and Women's hospital and a co-author of the study, said: "Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection". This could be life-changing for the 415 million people with diabetes worldwide, many of whom must inject insulin at least once daily to manage their condition. And ever since, researchers have been attempting to find ways to deliver insulin orally without any success.

Insulin injections can be lifesaving. Painless Injection Currently, diabetic patients receive insulin only through injection or infusion.

The pea-sized capsule contains a small needle made of solid, compressed insulin, which is injected into the stomach wall after the capsule has been swallowed. "Moreover, we recognize that the stomach is insensate to sharp pain and very tolerant of small, sharp objects". "But they're also more liable to degrade in the stomach or be blocked from entering the bloodstream by thick layers of mucus and tightly packed epithelial cells that line the stomach and gut". These are the species that can flip itself over when on its back.

The problem has largely been that insulin, a biologic, doesn't survive in the stomach.

Within the capsule, the needle is attached to a compressed spring that is held in place by a disk made of sugar.


The design of the pill has now been improved so that it has just one needle to avoid the pill being injected before it reaches the interior of the stomach. Its size and material makeup are like previously approved FDA ingestible devices. The researchers also say the capsule could be used to deliver other protein drugs.

In tests in pigs, the researchers showed that they could successfully deliver up to 300 micrograms of insulin. People afflicted with that form of diabetes usually require multiple needle injections of insulin a day to counteract risky levels of sugar that build up in their bodies. They observed a decrease in glucose levels similar to that of the injections and did not detect damage to the stomach tissue.

"While additional study is needed, the SOMA represents a platform with the potential to deliver a multitude of drugs".

"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 Traverso, who worked with a team from the lab of MIT inventor Robert Langer and insulin maker Novo Nordisk.

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.

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