Desang diabetes magazine diabetes news

NEWS

MIT INSULIN PILL

A capsule that releases insulin in the

stomach could replace injecting or

infusing for patients with Type 1 diabetes.

An MIT-led research team has developed

a drug capsule that could be used to

deliver oral doses of insulin. About the

size of a blueberry, the capsule contains

a small needle made of compressed

insulin, which is injected after the capsule

reaches the stomach. In tests in animals,

the researchers showed that they could

deliver enough insulin to lower blood

sugar to levels comparable to those

produced by injections given through

skin. They also demonstrated that the

device can be adapted to deliver other

protein drugs.

"We are really hopeful that this new

type of capsule could someday help

diabetic patients and perhaps anyone

who requires therapies that can now only

be given by injection or infusion," says

Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute

Professor, a member of MIT's Koch

Institute for Integrative Cancer Research,

and one of the senior authors of the study.

Several years ago, researchers at

MIT developed a pill coated with many

tiny needles that could be used to inject

drugs into the lining of the stomach or the

small intestine. For the new capsule, the

researchers changed the design to have

just one needle, allowing them to avoid

injecting drugs into the interior of the

stomach, where they would be broken

down by stomach acids before having

any effect. The tip of the needle is made

of nearly 100% compressed, freeze-dried

insulin, using the same process used to

form tablets of medicine. The shaft of the

needle, which does not enter the stomach

wall, is made from another biodegradable

material. Within the capsule, the needle

is attached to a compressed spring that

is held in place by a disk made of sugar.

When the capsule is swallowed, water

in the stomach dissolves the sugar disk,

releasing the spring and injecting the

needle into the stomach wall.

The stomach wall has no pain

receptors, so the researchers believe

that patients would not be able to feel

the injection. To ensure that the drug

is injected into the stomach wall, the

researchers designed their system so that

no matter how the capsule lands in the

stomach, it can orient itself so the needle

is in contact with the lining of the stomach.

Once the tip of the needle is injected into

the stomach wall, the insulin dissolves

at a rate that can be controlled by the

researchers as the capsule is prepared.

In this study, it took about an hour for all

of the insulin to be fully released into the

bloodstream. After the capsule releases

its contents, it can pass harmlessly

through the digestive system.

The MIT team is now continuing

to work with Novo Nordisk to further

develop the technology and optimize

the manufacturing process for the

capsules. The research was funded by

Novo Nordisk, the National Institutes of

Health, a National Science Foundation

Graduate Research Fellowship, Brigham

and Women's Hospital, a Viking Olaf

Bjork Research Scholarship, and the MIT

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Program.

www..mit.edu/oral-insulin-pill

A schematic drawing of a microneedle

pill with hollow needles. Image: Christine

Daniloff/MIT, based on images by Carol

Schoellhammer and Giovanni Traverso.

INPUT is a charity with a mission to improve access to

diabetes tech such as insulin pumps, flash and continuous

glucose monitoring, as well as to structured education.

www.inputdiabetes.org.uk

Index

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