A team of researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a capsule coated in needles for patients to swallow, enabling the delivery of drugs directly into the stomach lining.
The prickly pill is meant to overcome a significant obstacle to drug delivery.
This innovation could allow doctors to more efficiently dose patients with large antibodies – such as those used in cancer treatment – vaccines, and other drugs, which would normally have to be injected under the skin.
According to a press release, the model pills were used in trials to deliver insulin to pigs.
Made of stainless steel, the pills contain a pool of insulin in the center and hollow needles on the outside, which pump insulin into the stomach, intestines, and colon over the course of a week.
The pill goes down coated in a material that dissolves in stomach acid, sparing sensitive inner flesh from getting pricked.
The human body does not always absorb large molecules from drug injections, but in the pig experiments, the insulin in the capsule had a greater effect than insulin shot under the skin, potentially improving upon this issue.