A mucus-wicking robotic tablet might provide a brand new technique to ship meds.
The multivitamin-sized gadget homes a motor and a cargo maintain for medicine, together with ones which are sometimes given by way of injections or intravenously, comparable to insulin and a few antibiotics. If folks may take such medicine orally, they may probably keep away from each day photographs or a hospital keep, which might be “an enormous sport changer,” says MIT biomedical engineer Shriya Srinivasan.
However medicine that enter the physique by way of the mouth face a troublesome journey. They encounter churning abdomen acid, raging digestive enzymes and sticky slicks of mucus within the intestine. Intestinal mucus “type of acts like Jell-O,” Srinivasan says. The goo can lure drug particles, stopping them from getting into the bloodstream.
The brand new gadget, dubbed RoboCap, whisks away this downside. The tablet makes use of floor grooves, studs and torpedo-inspired fins to clean away intestinal mucus like a miniature brush whirling inside a bottle. In experiments in pigs, RoboCap tunneled by means of mucus lining the partitions of the small gut, depositing insulin or the IV antibiotic vancomycin alongside the way in which, Srinivasan and colleagues report September 28 in Science Robotics. After churning for about 35 minutes, the tablet continued its journey by means of the intestine and finally out of the physique.
RoboCap is the newest pill-like gadget made to be swallowed. In 2019, a number of the identical researchers who developed RoboCap debuted a distinct gadget — one which injects medicine by pricking the within of the abdomen (SN: 2/7/19). That pea-sized injector was not designed to work within the small gut, the place some medicine are most simply absorbed. The RoboCap might also have the ability to ship bigger drug payloads, Srinivasan says.