Recently, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) collaborated with Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to design an oral capsule that can deliver insulin and other drugs directly in the small intestine and release them for uptake into the bloodstream.
A study published in journal Nature Medicine explained that many drugs, especially those made of proteins, can only take effect if they are not broken down in the gastrointestinal tract. One such example is insulin, which diabetic patients have to inject frequently.
Hence, the new research at MIT has designed a capsule to carry protein, insulin, or other drugs while protecting them from breaking down in the gastrointestinal tract.
Once the capsule reaches the lining of the small intestine it breaks down to release dissolvable microneedles. These micro-needles attach themselves to the walls and release drugs to be taken into the bloodstream.
While testing on pigs, the researchers observed that this capsule could enable fast uptake of insulin into the bloodstream as it can load a significant amount of the drug to that of an injection. The team previously developed many new strategies for oral drug delivery that usually has to be injected directly in the bloodstream.
An assistant professor at MIT, Giovanni Traverso, said that these researches are driven by the fact that both patients and healthcare providers prefer the oral intake of drugs then inject-able one.
Earlier this year, they developed a similar drug, a blueberry-sized capsule, to carry compressed insulin in small needles. The drug was made to release directly into the stomach lining.
In the new study, they were focusing on the development of a capsule that is able to directly inject its contents in the wall of the small intestine.
MIT Ph.D. recipient, Alex Abramson, said that they have performed numerous safety tests on animal and human tissues to ensure the drug is being delivered without any serious adverse effect.