Smart Pill Capsule Could Represent Future Of Drug Delivery

Direct delivery of medication would target certain medical conditions.
Karin Heineman, ISTV Executive Producer

(Inside Science TV) – A tiny medication capsule could be life-changing for some people.

Most medications are absorbed into the body through the stomach and small intestine before making it to the large intestine.

This is just fine for most people, but becomes a problem for people suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease -- they need drugs that target the large intestine directly. Scientists at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana may have found a solution: A tiny smart pill that delivers drugs right where patients need it most.

The smart capsule is a device that will open at a specific location in the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract, according to Babak Ziaie, an electrical engineer at Purdue.

The capsule is about an inch long with two compartments. One side holds the drugs. The other side contains a magnetic switch and an electrical component known as a capacitor that releases an electric charge to power the device.

A patient wears a small magnet, or has one implanted near where their large and small intestine meet.  When the capsule comes within range of the magnet, it triggers the capsule to open and releases the drug.

A simulated digestive tract has been used to test the capsule, and researchers hope to see it move on to human clinical trials soon.  Once the device is perfected, it could help a host of GI-tract problems.


Author Bio & Story Archive

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV.