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This article was published on May 27, 2015

    You could soon be taking a robot pill that delivers drugs with sugar needles

    You could soon be taking a robot pill that delivers drugs with sugar needles
    Mic Wright
    Story by

    Mic Wright

    Reporter, TNW

    Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy. Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy.

    Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has announced a collaboration with US-based biotech startup Rani Therapeutics to create a “robotic pill” that can deliver complex drugs which would usually be given with injections.

    The capsule is taken like a conventional pill, but contains tiny needles made of sugar that deliver drugs into the wall of the intestine.

    The approach could make the dream of delivering large-molecule biologic drugs in pill form possible. Most previous attempts have been stymied as the compounds are broken down in the stomach.

    The startup says it will be running feasibility studies over the next 18 to 24 months, evaluating which Novartis medicines can be delivered directly into the bloodstream using the device.

    Rani’s previous backers include Google Ventures. It will now add Novartis to that roster. The pharmaceutical giant is taking part in a new fundraising round, with the possibility that it may forge a larger collaboration or license the technology.

    Last year, Novartis teamed up with Google to begin the development of smart contact lenses designed to help diabetics track their blood glucose levels.

    Novartis digs into health tech with bet on ‘robotic pill’ [Reuters]

    Read next: Google and Johnson & Johnson team up to build surgery-assisting robots

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