According to MIT News, the tip of the needle is "made of almost 100 percent compressed, freeze-dried insulin, using the same process used to form tablets of medicine". The same capsule can also be adapted to deliver other protein drugs. In 2014, Langer and his colleagues developed a pill with tiny needles that will inject the drug into the stomach lining. The shaft of the needle does not enter the stomach and is biodegradable.
The article adds that a tiny coiled spring held in a ready position by a disk made of sugar, compresses the needle once stomach fluids dissolve the sugar disk. The sugar dissolves when it hits gastric juice, which releases the spring and injects the insulin into the stomach lining.
The stomach wall has no pain receptors, so the patients would not be able to feel the prick of the injection. The cleverest part of the design is the shape of the pill that ensures, no matter which way it lands the needle is always pointing towards the stomach wall.
The researchers hope that their research can lead to an easier way of delivering insulin.
Scientists figured out how to hide a shot inside a pea-sized pill - creating a swallowable gadget, inspired by a tortoise shell, that can inject medicines like insulin from inside the stomach.
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The study, coordinated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been carried out so far only with fasting pigs, to which they first administered doses of 0.3 mg and after 5 mg of insulin, a similar amount to which patients with type 2 diabetes are injected. So, they turned to an unlikely animal for inspiration: the leopard tortoise. This tortoise has a dome like shell which is high and allows it to set itself right when it rolls on its back. When your body isn't making insulin correctly, you can take man-made insulin to help control your body blood sugar.
Abramson stated, "What's important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected".
In addition, the oral device, also called SOMA, is capable of self-orienting, thanks to its shape and distribution of its density, so that the micro-needle is injected correctly into the stomach. Traverso is an assistant professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Furthermore, no adverse effects from the capsule was found, which is made from biodegradable polymer and stainless steel components. The team are now working to further optimize the technology and manufacturing of the capsule.
Other authors of the paper include Ester Caffarel-Salvador, Minsoo Khang, David Dellal, David Silverstein, Yuan Gao, Morten Revsgaard Frederiksen, Andreas Vegge, Frantisek Hubalek, Jorrit Water, Anders Friderichsen, Johannes Fels, Rikke Kaae Kirk, Cody Cleveland, Joy Collins, Siddartha Tamang, Alison Hayward, Tomas Landh, Stephen Buckley, Niclas Roxhed, and Ulrik Rahbek.