This robotic pill clears mucus from the gut to deliver meds

A mucus-wicking robotic tablet could provide a brand new method to ship meds.

The multivitamin-sized gadget homes a motor and a cargo maintain for medicine, together with ones which can be usually given through injections or intravenously, akin to insulin and a few antibiotics. If folks may take such medicine orally, they may doubtlessly keep away from each day pictures or a hospital keep, which might be “an enormous recreation changer,” says MIT biomedical engineer Shriya Srinivasan.

However medicine that enter the physique through 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 wash away intestinal mucus like a miniature brush whirling inside a bottle. In experiments in pigs, RoboCap tunneled through mucus lining the walls of the small intestine, 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 ultimately out of the physique.

RoboCap is the most recent pill-like gadget made to be swallowed.  In 2019, a number of the similar researchers who developed RoboCap debuted a distinct gadget­ — one which injects drugs by pricking the inside of the stomach (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 may additionally be capable to ship bigger drug payloads, Srinivasan says. 

A robotic tablet referred to as RoboCap churns by means of viscous mucus (stained purple) and intestinal juices (inexperienced) in a lab dish (proven sped up within the first clip on this video). In experiments in pigs, the tablet cleared mucus from the liner of the small gut to ship insulin or antibiotics.

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