Most pills usually dissolve and provide their dose of medicine to the body in a short amount of time. However, scientists have been able to develop the prototype of a drug delivery capsule which keeps releasing medicine even days after it has been swallowed.
Scientists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology might have developed the next revolution of administering medicine. They created a long-acting drug delivery capsule which is able to persist the acids of the stomach for as long as long as two weeks while releasing medicine on a steady level.
The pill is covered in various polymer materials and packed into a capsule made from gelatin. Once it reaches the stomach, its six arms start unfurling to keep the pill in the stomach while it keeps releasing the medicine it has been equipped with. Although it seems rather harmful for an object to persist in the stomach, scientists assure us that the drug delivery capsule does not affect the normal process of digestion. The food and drinks we consume will be able to pass through the digestive system without any problem while the pill persists.
The research and development process which led to the invention of the capsule have been explained in the journal Science Translational Medicine. During the study, scientists used the pill on various animals. They found that their invention safely delivered ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, for ten days in the guts of Yorkshire pigs and dogs. Both animals have digestive systems similar to those of humans.
One major benefit of the design of this pill is that while prescriptions involve a daily schedule, people can easily forget to take their drugs regularly. Fortunately, the release process is automatic and the capsule is very easy to swallow.
The drug ivermectin used by researchers during their study treats both river blindness and malaria. These diseases have affected less developed countries in Africa the most. The drug delivery capsule provides a very cheap way for patients to keep up with their medication regimes. Researchers are working to further develop this technology for all types of medicine. Using it can prevent billions in health care costs from patients who don’t adhere to their recommended drug regimes.
Image credit: Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Communication & Public Affairs