Innovation

End Of Painful Insulin Jabs? Oral Alternative Is Here For Diabetes Management

Managing diabetes may soon be as easy as taking a pill for your vitamin intake. Researchers created a new oral capsule that can deliver insulin and other types of drugs that are commonly injected into the body.  

The potential oral alternative, described in the journal Nature Medicine, works by carrying medication into the lining of the small intestine and later releasing it into the bloodstream. This process eliminates the problem that has been preventing insulin and other protein-based drugs from being taken orally. 

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) explained that the medications made of proteins cannot be taken orally because they are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract before they spread through the bloodstream. The MIT researchers partnered with Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to create the new capsule to address this problem.

They said the material could protect insulin or other protein drugs from the harsh environment in the gut. The capsule is made of a polymer coating that can survive an acidic environment with pH levels reaching 1.5 to 3.5.

The special coating enables the pill to reach the small intestine, where it releases dissolvable microneedles that deliver the medications into the blood, The Economic Times reported

“We are really pleased with the latest results of the new oral delivery device our lab members have developed with our collaborators, and we look forward to hopefully seeing it help people with diabetes and others in the future,” Robert Langer, a senior author of the paper and a professor at MIT, said.

During lab tests, a 30mm pill effectively delivered the same doses of insulin provided by an injection. It works by relying on the higher pH levels in the small intestine. The acidity prompts the capsule to break open and release the microneedles that deliver the insulin. 

Researchers said the drug capsule provided immediate blood-glucose-lowering response during tests in pigs. 

"We performed numerous safety tests on animal and human tissue to ensure that the penetration event allowed for drug delivery without causing a full thickness perforation or any other serious adverse events," MIT PhD recipient Alex Abramson said.

The researchers plan to continue the study to further understand the effects of the drug capsule and to see if it could deliver other drugs to the body. 

diabetes The American Diabetes Association estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans are being diagnosed with the disease every year in the country. Pixabay

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