The capsule, which has been customized to deliver drugs and sense environmental conditions, or both. It can reside in the stomach for about a month and transmits information and respond over instructions taken from the user’s smartphone. An ingestible capsule has been developed by the Researchers at MIT, Draper, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and it can be controlled using Bluetooth wireless technology.
The capsule is manufactured by using 3-D-Printing Technology. The developed capsule is capable of deploying to deliver drugs for the treatment of a variety of diseases, especially in those cases where drugs must be taken over a long period of time. It is an electronic capsule that can be controlled wirelessly to deliver medication and minimizes the need for surgeries.
These devices are also made to establish easy communication with other wearable or implantable medical devices, which can deliver pieces of information to the patient’s or doctor’s smartphone. The device could also help patients to maintain strict dosing regimens for patients diagnosed with severe diseases like HIV, Malaria, or Type 2 Diabetes.
The capsule is about the size of a blueberry. To understand its working, let’s take the example of releasing Insulin for a Diabetic in the patient’s body. The Capsule consists of a small needle made of compressed insulin, which gets injected inside the stomach after the capsule reaches to the right place. While testing over animals, the researchers demonstrated that they could deliver enough amount of insulin to lower the blood sugar level as compared to those effects made by injections giving through the skin. However, it is also expected that the device can be adapted to deliver other protein drugs to the specific place so that the body can make maximum use of it.
It is expected that the capsule can stay in the stomach for about a month and can respond as per the instructions received from the smartphone or the device which it is connected with. The smart capsule is capable of sensing the environmental conditions of the body and deliver the medicines. 3D Printing Technology has been used to develop the capsule. The capsule can reside in the stomach for around four weeks before the acid in the stomach decays the capsule and excrete it out from the body. The ingestible capsule is equipped to monitor the gastric environment and can provide valuable data about a disease or to retain the details of the effectiveness of the medication.
The device after being swallowed unfolds into a Y-shaped structure. One of its arms includes four small compartments which carry a variety of drugs in it. The drugs can also be packaged within polymers which allow medicines to be released gradually over a span of few days. Whereas, the researchers also said that they can even design the compartments which can be opened by using a remote through the wireless Bluetooth communication.
The existing version of the device is receiving power from a small silver oxide battery. However, the researchers are looking for the possibility of replacing the battery with an alternative source of power, and it could be an external antenna or stomach acid. As well as, the researchers estimated that within about two years, they may be able to start testing ingestible sensors in human patients. They even launched a company which will work on developing the technology for human use.
The research over making the ingestible capsule to deliver the medicines after analyzing the exact internal condition was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health through Draper.