Stainless steel microneedle pills may one day take the place of injections. Imagine ingesting your next injection by swallowing a pill made with tiny microneedles. It sounds awful, but researchers who developed the new jagged little pill technology say it would be a completely painless way to receive an injection.
Medical News Today said that the microneedle capsule is made with tiny hollow needles coated with a pH-sensitive coating. When the capsule full of microneedles makes it to the right place in the digestive tract, the pH in that area will dissolve the coating and the multiple stainless steel microneedles will begin injecting the digestive tract with medication.
The microneedle technology was designed by researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The team published the results of a microneedle study in which they tested the microneedle pills in pigs. That research was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The reason the researchers developed the technology is to join the benefits of both injecting and ingesting medications. In pill form, many medications can not be given or they risk being broken down by the digestive tract before being absorbed well. At the same time, many patients are resistant to getting poked with a needle. Medications that previously and currently require injections include vaccines and some medications used to treat cancer, arthritis, and other diseases.
The research conducted on the pig demonstrated that the microneedle technology should work even better and more quickly than current standard injections. The microneedle pills were well tolerated and demonstrated to be safe when used on the pig, according to Pharm Tech.
"The kinetics are much better and much faster-onset than those seen with traditional under-the-skin administration," he says. "For molecules that are particularly difficult to absorb, this would be a way of actually administering them at much higher efficiency."
Previously, Inquisitr reported that microneedles were being used to deliver medications via skin patch.
"In theory, it would be as simple as sticking it to your baby's back like a sticker, and your baby is immediately vaccinated," the previous Inquisitr article explained of the patches with microneedles. That article said that soon people may be getting mail-order vaccines that they administer themselves. The microneedle pills could be used in the same way, in theory.
How do you feel about swallowing a pill that contained stainless steel microneedles?
[Image credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT, based on images by Carol Schoellhammer and Giovanni Traverso, via Medical News Today]