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Diabetes mellitus affects over 30 million Americans and 415 million people
worldwide individuals with diabetes either do not generate sufficient
insulin are unable to use insulin properly or experience both issues
diabetes results in high blood sugar levels which in turn can lead to serious
complications including kidney, eye and heart disease along with many other
ailments for many people with diabetes injecting insulin multiple times per day
is the only way to control blood glucose levels. Daily injections can be
challenging for people, injections can cause discomforts
they draw attention, formulations require refrigeration and they generate
biohazardous needle waste. These challenges can result in lower patient
compliance which in turn results in worse health outcomes. Over the past 100
years physicians and scientists have searched for a method to deliver insulin
using an oral capsule. However the walls of the gastrointestinal tract to prevent
the uptake of large molecules such as insulin a team of scientists from MIT
Harvard, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Novo Nordisk have developed a
breakthrough capsule technology which overcomes this barrier after a patient
ingests the capsule it autonomously inserts insulin into the top layers of
stomach tissue. Inspired by the unique shape of leopard tortoises which allow
them to self right from any orientation the team designed a novel system with
the ability to consistently orient and release the drug into the tissue wall
the self orienting millimeter scale actuator known as S.O.M.A. consistently
delivered insulin with an efficiency comparable to injection in our
preclinical evaluation. Both the tortoiseshell and the S.O.M.A.
possess upper portions with pointed tops and lower portions with level bottoms
the high curvature body allows the device to reorient itself utilizing
gravity alone. The flat base ensures that the S.O.M.A. does not tip over when moved by
stomach contractions the stomach walls muscular tissue acts as a natural
barrier and prevents the risk of perforation during drug insertion. After
delivering the drug the capsule passes safely through the body a dissolvable
timing mechanism ensures reproducible insulin delivery to the stomach wall
rather than esophagus or small intestine. Insulin uptake begins within a few
minutes after ingestion and continues throughout the day. In a large animal
model insulin delivered orally using the soma provided equivalent drug exposure
compared to the same formulation injected under the skin the scientists
hope that this new capsule technology will eventually allow patients to take a
multitude of drugs including insulin orally.