RoboCap for drug delivery

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Technology networks reported on robotic capsules designed by MIT scientists. RoboCap features a “cargo hold” which stores the drug, as well as a gelatinous coating that protects tissue from damage and discomfort after swallowing. Once the RoboCap reaches the stomach, gastric acid degrades the gelatin coating, and the pH change after it passes into the small intestine dissolves a pH-sensitive membrane. This triggers the activation of the RoboCap by closing an electrical circuit within the capsule. Once active, the RoboCap begins to spin, caused by an offset weight connected to a motor that generates the centripetal force required for the capsule to rotate. The capsule’s helical surface and studded texture make contact with the plicae (large circular folds of tissue) and villi (microscopic finger-like protrusions) on the surface of the intestine, which churns and clears away the mucus layer. The drug payload is then gradually released in this cleared area with each rotation of the RoboCap, depositing the drug directly onto the intestinal surface.

An in vivo study using pigs was then conducted to test the delivery of both vancomycin and insulin using the RoboCap. The small intestine of the anesthetized animals was isolated, and either a drug-loaded RoboCap was added, or a control treatment consisting of either a sham pill (vancomycin) or a spray (insulin). Results showed that the RoboCap increased the permeability of vancomycin into the tissue by over 20 times compared to the control, and significantly increased the concentration of vancomycin in the surrounding veins while the control samples had no effect. For insulin, delivery via the RoboCap significantly increased insulin levels in the blood and sharply decreased glucose levels compared to controls.

There are 200 and 600 hits for cyclodextrin + vacomycin and cyclodextrin + insulin keywords in the Scopus database (11.10.2022). Why not to include the cyclodextrin-enhanced formulations of hese drugs into RoboCap to further improve the drug delivery performance?

For more details see:

Srinivasan, S., Alshareef, A., Hwang, A……Traverso, G. (2022) RoboCap: Robotic mucus-clearing capsule for enhanced drug delivery in the gastrointestinal tract. Science Robotics 7. doi: 10.1126/scirobotics.abp906

Featured image: RoboCap, a new drug capsule developed at MIT can help large proteins such as insulin and small-molecule drugs be absorbed in the digestive tract. Credit: Traverso lab/MIT and BWH

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