Imagine something trapped in your stomach that can’t get out, because you put it there willfully.
That’s the idea behind this new “ultra long-acting oral drug delivery” system that has been developed in collaboration between a team of MIT scientists and healthcare company Lyndra. It tries to solve a common problem people have with taking medicinal pills — not taking them regularly.
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When the pill has been swallowed and it has entered the subject’s stomach, it expands to form a star-like shape that prevents it from getting out of there. It then starts slowly releasing medicine, and will continue to do so for seven to ten days, after which the stomach’s acids have deteriorated enough of the pill to let it pass.
A recent study published in Science Translational Medicine has shown positive results in testing the experimental pills on pigs, which is a first step to potentially getting the drug in human hands.
According to Amy Schulman, co-founder of Lyndra, 50 percent of patients in the developed world don’t take their medicine as prescribed, costing the US healthcare system over $100 billion annually — and the statistics are even worse in the developing world. If the pill passes human testing and regulatory hurdles, it will offer these patients an easier way to keep on track with their prescription.