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Current Affairs

Oral capsule for insulin intake

Date: 11 October 2019 Tags: Nanotechnology

Issue

Scientists have designed an oral capsule which can deliver insulin and other drugs, that otherwise have to be injected, directly to the lining of the small intestine and release them for uptake into the bloodstream.

 

Background

Many drugs, especially those made of proteins, cannot be taken orally because they are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract before they can take effect.

 

Details

  • The researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a new drug capsule that can carry insulin or other protein drugs and protect them from the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • When the capsule reaches the small intestine, it breaks down to reveal dissolvable micro-needles that attach to the intestinal wall and release drug for uptake into the bloodstream.

  • During tests in pigs, the researchers showed that this capsule could load a comparable amount of insulin to that of an injection, enabling fast uptake into the bloodstream after the micro-needles were released.

  • To allow their capsule to reach the small intestine and perform these micro-injections, the researchers coated it with a polymer that can survive the acidic environment of the stomach, which has a pH of 1.5 to 3.5.

  • When the capsule reaches the small intestine, the higher pH (around 6) triggers it to break open and three folded arms inside the capsule spring open and attach the needles to the lining to deliver insulin.