Innovation That Matters

Diabetic capsules

Scientists create insulin pill for diabetics

Health & Wellbeing

A small capsule could change how we take some medications

Spotted: A team of scientists have developed a special capsule for diabetics, which could replace insulin injections. The key to the capsule is its design — inspired by the shell of an African leopard tortoise. The capsule has high, rounded sides that guarantee it can flip over if it lands upside down. This is important because it ensures the medicine is delivered correctly. The flat bottom keeps it in position once it lands.

The pill is small, about the size of a blueberry, making it easy to swallow. The capsule contains a small biodegradable needle made of compressed insulin. Once in place, it releases the insulin. The mechanism was a eureka moment for scientists, who realised the humidity of the stomach would dissolve the disk of sugar used to hold the needle in place until it reached the stomach lining.

Funding for the research came from Novo Nordisk, the National Institutes of Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and various grants.




Download PDF