Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes have always needed to use needles to inject themselves with insulin every day, but they may no longer need to do this thanks to a major medical breakthrough made by researchers at MIT.
The MIT research team has reportedly developed a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin that would release the injections diabetes-sufferers have to give themselves every day. Each capsule contains a small needle made of compressed insulin that is injected after the capsule reaches the stomach.
After conducting a series of tests, researchers concluded that the capsules could deliver enough insulin to lower blood sugar levels that are comparable to those produced by skin injections. In addition, they found that the capsules 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,” said Robert Langer, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and one of the senior authors of the study.
Since the stomach has no pain indicators, it is believed that patients will not be able to feel the injection from the capsule. The system has been designed 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.
“As soon as you take it, you want the system to self-right so that you can ensure contact with the tissue,” explained Giovanni Traverso, a visiting scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a senior author of the study.
“What’s important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected,” added MIT graduate student Alex Abramson, a first author of the paper. “Also, if a person were to move around or the stomach were to growl, the device would not move from its preferred orientation.”
Maria José Alonso, a professor of biopharmaceutics and pharmaceutical technology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, said that the capsules are a “radically new technology” that could benefit many patients.
“We are not talking about incremental improvements in insulin absorption, which is what most researchers in the field have done so far,” she said. “This is by far the most realistic and impactful breakthrough technology disclosed until now for oral peptide delivery.”
These capsules have the potential to make millions of lives a whole lot easier. We hope this new medication will relieve some of the stress of diabetes sufferers once it’s been proven to work and is safe.