Diabetes, the pill that replaces insulin injections


The capsule, called RoboCap, could revolutionize modern medicine. The size of a blueberry, the affordable device is made from biodegradable polymers and stainless steel components. It manages to overcome the difficult environment of the stomach, resisting the attacks of enzymes and penetrating the mucus barrier of the small intestine and other obstacles.


For patients and doctors, taking oral treatments is more desirable. Swallowing the pills is safer, more comfortable, and less invasive than other methods. However, some drugs often cannot withstand stomach acids before releasing their cargo. The RoboCap trials were conducted on pigs. The first results show that the gelatinous coating made up of the polymers increased the permeability of insulin more than 10 times. The pill, in fact, locally eliminates the mucus layer, and precisely deposits the drug load in the small intestine, improving its absorption. The mucus cleansing and stirring movements of RoboCap are facilitated by a motor internal and surface features that interact with the intestinal folds, villi and mucus of the small intestine.

Similar results have been seen for pills containing vancomycin , an antibiotic that is usually given intravenously. “Peptides and proteins are important drugs, but the degrading environment of the gastrointestinal tract and poor absorption have limited the ability to administer these drugs orally,” says Giovanni Traverso, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School. the gastroenterology division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which together with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) developed the pill.

  • RoboCap: Robotic mucus-clearing capsule for enhanced drug delivery in the gastrointestinal tract (


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