A new magnetic pill system developed by Brown University researchers could solve the problem by safely holding a pill in place in the intestine wherever it needs to be.
The scientists describe the harmless operation of their magnetic pill system in rats online the week of Jan. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Applied to people in the future, said senior author Edith Mathiowitz, the technology could provide a new way to deliver many drugs to patients, including those with cancer or diabetes. It could also act as a powerful research tool to help scientists understand exactly where in the intestine different drugs are best absorbed.
"With this technology you can now tell where the pill is placed, take some blood samples and know exactly if the pill being in this region really enhances the bioavailability of the medicine in the body," said Mathiowitz, professor of medical science in Brown's Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology. "It's a completely new way to design a drug delivery system."
The two main components of the system are conventional-looking gelatin capsules that contain a tiny magnet, and an external magnet that can precisely sense the force between it and the pill and vary that force, as needed, to hold the pill in place. The external magnet can sense the pill's position, but because the pill is opaque to x-rays, the researchers were also able to see the pill in the rat's bodies during their studies.
The system is not the first attempt to guide pills magnetically, but it is the first one in which scientists can control the forces on a pill so that it's safe to use in the body. They designed their system to sense the position of pills and hold them there with a minimum of force.
"The most important thing is to be able to monitor the forces that you exert on the pill in order to avoid damage to the surrounding tissue," said Mathiowitz. "If you apply a little more than necessary force, your pill will be pulled to the external magnet, and this is a problem."
To accomplish this, the team including lead author and former graduate student Bryan Laulicht took careful measurements and built an external magnet system with sophisticated computer control and feedback mechanisms.
"The greatest challenges were quantifying the required force range for maintaining a magnetic pill in the small intestines and constructing a device that could maintain intermagnetic forces within that range," said Laulicht, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at MIT.
Even after holding a pill in place for 12 hours in the rats, the system applied a pressure on the intestinal wall that was less than 1/60th of what would be damaging.
The next step in the research is to begin delivering drugs using the system and testing their absorption, Mathiowitz and Laulicht said.
"Then it will move to larger animal models and ultimately into the clinic," Laulicht said. "It is my hope that magnetic pill retention will be used to enable oral drug delivery solutions to previously unmet medical needs."
In addition to Mathiowitz and Laulicht, authors on the paper include Brown researchers Nicholas Gidmark and Anubhav Tripathi. Brown University funded the research.
David Orenstein | EurekAlert!
UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses
02.12.2016 | University of Texas at San Antonio
Earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis may be possible with new imaging compound
02.11.2016 | Washington University School of Medicine
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy