Daily insulin injections for people with diabetes can disappear in the future thanks to a capsule that delivers insulin directly into the stomach, a technique that has been tested in pigs so far, according to a report published on Thursday.
Scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston designed the pill, which consists of a biodegradable capsule the size of a chickpea containing a microneedle of insulin, according to a US press release.
Once in the stomach, the capsule dissolves and the needle itself is injected, something that, according to Giovanni Traverso, co-author of the study, is practically imperceptible to patients, because this organ does not contain nerve fibers that receive pain.
Moreover, the oral device, also called SOMA, is able to orient itself, thanks to the shape and distribution of the density, so that the micro needle is correctly injected into the stomach. That is why it does not matter how the pill falls, it will always be able to orient itself to come into contact with the stomach wall.
The researchers were inspired to design the SOMA for the leopard tortoise, an African species that can straighten out if left on its back.
The study, coordinated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has so far only been conducted with fasting pigs, to which they have first administered doses of 0.3 mg and after 5 mg of insulin, a comparable amount to which patients with type 2 diabetes be injected.
The researchers then determined how much insulin had passed into the blood and glucose levels of the animals before and after the experiment. They saw a reduction in glucose levels similar to that of the injections and did not detect damage to the gastric tissue.
The aim of the study is that diabetic patients have an alternative to injections that, despite being effective, are an unpleasant and increasingly expensive method, the note adds.
"Although we need to investigate further, this could be a possible way to deliver many medications," such as immunosuppressants to treat rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, Traverso said.