Robotic capsule that delivers medicine to intestine might finish insulin injections

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A drug-carrying capsule with a motor protects medicines from abdomen acid and enzymes earlier than releasing them within the small gut



Know-how



28 September 2022

RoboCap in a dish within the lab

Shriya Srinivasan/MIT

A robotic capsule that may propel itself by way of mucus within the gut might allow some injection-only medicine, comparable to insulin or sure antibiotics, to be delivered by mouth.

To be absorbed into the bloodstream, medicine taken orally should survive harsh abdomen acid and enzymes, in addition to manoeuvre by way of micro organism and mucus within the gut, which might rule out many delicate medicine from being taken this manner. Only one per cent of insulin, for instance, is taken up by the physique when it’s swallowed as a result of abdomen enzymes break it down, so folks with diabetes should take injections as an alternative.

Shriya Srinivasan on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how and her colleagues have developed a drug-carrying capsule known as RoboCap that may drill by way of mucus within the decrease gut and disperse its load. “I used to be watching movies of those machines that may make tunnels and I assumed, ‘OK, what if we did this however for mucus,’” she says.

The capsule is 2.5-centimetres lengthy and 1-centimetre vast – concerning the measurement of a giant multivitamin ­– and encased in a gelatin capsule that dissolves in abdomen acid. The pH within the decrease gut prompts the motor, which is powered by a small battery. The capsule has fins and studs on its floor, which assist to wick away and scrape at mucus. As soon as it has tunnelled far sufficient, the drug is launched and blended additional by the capsule’s motion.


Srinivasan and her colleagues examined RoboCap’s potential to ship insulin in seven reside pigs, evaluating it with insulin delivered into the intestine by way of a tube. They discovered that RoboCap elevated the quantity of drug absorbed by 20 to 40 per cent and lowered blood sugar in contrast with the management group.

“RoboCap is an revolutionary idea that goals to beat the present problem in orally delivering many superior and rising therapies, comparable to peptides, proteins and nucleic acids,” says Abdul Basit at College Faculty London.

Whereas the outcomes are promising, extra work must be performed to look at how folks with weakened immune techniques may be affected, says Basit, in addition to the capsule’s impact on helpful micro organism that reside within the mucus.

Journal reference: Science Robotics, DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abp9066

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