1. The Much-Awaited Insulin Pill May Finally Be Here

Researchers effort to develop a pill for the oral delivery of insulin is eventually becoming fruitful, and they hope that it can be made available to patients sooner. Insulin is currently available only as an injectable formulation. Therefore, to keep their disease under control and prevent complications, people diagnosed with diabetes more particularly type 1 diabetes, require daily doses of insulin delivered into the bloodstream either through injections or using insulin pumps.

This is a cumbersome, disruptive method, and so administering insulin orally, in pill form, would be a preferable alternative. But unfortunately, insulin quickly deteriorates when coming into contact with gastric acid, or digestive enzymes, and so the scientists have till now been unsuccessful.

Recently, a team of researchers headed by Dr. Samir Mitragotri from Harvard University, have developed a safe and highly effective oral insulin formulation that holds promise for the development of an insulin pill.

"Once ingested, insulin must navigate a challenging obstacle course before it can be effectively absorbed into the bloodstream,"says the senior study author Samir Mitragotri who described their research. The research team thus created a complex pill coating, designed to shield the insulin from gastric acid and enzymes of the small intestine and also be able to penetrate the intestine's protective barriers.

In this novel approach, insulin is suspended in an ionic liquid comprising choline and geranic acid (CAGE), and is encapsulated in an enteric coating, which is resistant to gastric acid. The enteric coating thus protects the pill from the acidic environment of the stomach, and only gets dissolved in the small intestine.

According to the researchers, the formulation is biocompatible, easy to manufacture, and can be stored for up to two months at room temperature and for at least 4 months under refrigeration without degrading, which is longer than some injectable insulin products currently on the market.

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