Imagine taking a pill with small needles rather than getting an injection. Then once again, think about taking a pill with small needles. It may seem painful, but with respect to the scientists who designed the new capsule – which could substitute painful injections, with no harmful side effects.
The scientists, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), have presented the outcomes of their research in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which examined the microneedle pill in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of pigs – .
Though most of us would most likely choose taking a pill over having an injection, many medicines cannot be provided in the form of pill because they are busted down in the stomach prior to being absorbed.
Biopharmaceuticals made from huge proteins, like as antibodies, known as “biologics” – are utilized to deal with cancer and autoimmune disorders like as arthritis and Crohn’s condition, and they also consist of vaccines, recombinant DNA and RNA.
“The big size of these biologic medicines makes them non-absorbable,” describes led author student Carl Schoellhammer. “And prior to they even would be absorbed, they are degraded in our GI tract by enzymes and acids that just consume the molecules and make them non-active.”
In an attempt to design a capsule that is able of providing a wide range of medicines – while avoiding degradation and successfully injecting the medication into the GI tract – Schoellhammer and co-workers designed the capsule from acrylic, such as a reservoir for the drug that is covered with hollow, 5 mm long small needles made of stainless steel. The capsule measures 2 cm lengthy and 1 cm in width.
New capsule worked safely and efficiently in pigs
The team notices that earlier researches concerning humans who have unintentionally consumed sharp objects have recommended swallowing a capsule covered with short needles could be safe. They clarify that there are no pain receptors in the GI tract and that, as a outcome, sufferers would not experience any pain.
But to evaluate whether their needle capsule could safely and successfully deliver the medicines, the scientists examined the pill in pigs, using insulin in the drug reservoir.
The needle capsules took over a week to move through the whole digestive system, and there were no records of tissue damage, the scientists say. In addition, the microneedles successfully inserted insulin into the lining of the pigs’ stomachs, small intestines and colons, which lead in their blood glucose levels decreasing.
Co-led author Giovanni Traverso, a research fellow, notes that the pigs’ decrease in blood glucose was quicker and larger than the drop noticed from insulin injection.
“The kinetics are far better and much quicker-onset than those observed with traditional under-the-skin administration,” he says. “For molecules that are especially complicated to absorb, this would be a way of basically administering them at much increased efficiency.”
‘Oral delivery of medicines is a main challenge’
Though they utilized insulin for their assessments in pigs, the scientists say they envision their capsule being used to deliver biologics to human beings.
“This might be a way that the sufferer can prevent the need to have an infusion or subcutaneous administration of a medicine,” says Traverso.
Prof. Samir Mitragotri- who was not engaged in the study – says:
“This is a very fascinating method. Oral delivery of medicines is a main challenge, particularly for protein medicines. There is remarkable motivation on numerous fronts for discovering other ways to deliver medicines without using the regular needle and syringe.”
In terms of future improvements, the team plans to modify the capsule so that contractions of the digestive tract gradually squeeze the drug out of the capsule as it moves via the body, and they also want to make the small needles out of degradable polymers and sugar that break off, becoming inserted in the gut lining and gradually disintegrating.