Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Draper and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States recently published a study on an ingestible new technology.
Thanks to the latest 3-D printing technology, they have developed a new capsule which can deliver medication directly into the stomach and sense environmental conditions (for example body temperature monitoring). This capsule could deliver drugs to treat various diseases, particularly in cases where drugs must be taken over a long period of time, it can also sense infections and allergic reactions.
The device, designed in a ‘Y’ shape, can remain in the stomach for up to a month before being digested. To facilitate ingestion, the arms are folded, and the device is contained in a smooth envelope. This film dissolves in contact with the gastric juice, thus releasing the capsule. One of the arms contains four small compartments that can be loaded with a various drugs and can then be opened remotely via wireless Bluetooth communication. Moreover, each of these drugs would be wrapped in a polymeric material that would promote a gradual spread of the product.
The capsule may also contain sensors for monitoring the condition of a patient. Researchers have already demonstrated this for body temperature, and for heart and respiratory rates. All this data would then be communicated to a smartphone held at maximum at arm’s length. The limited connection range of this device is for security purposes in order to limit the risk of hacking.
Researchers are considering several target populations, including people in need of long-term treatment, for example those with HIV or malaria. The device will be programmed to deliver a specific dosage at a specific interval. Additionally, in the future researchers envision that this smart pill could be very useful for people at high risk for infection, such as people undertakingchemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs, by delivering antibiotics at the first sign of infection.
Currently, this revolutionary capsule has only been tested on pigs, but researchers believe that they can begin testing on humans within two years.
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