In recent years, researchers have been experimenting with different methods for long-term, controlled drug delivery. Some researchers have had success with surgical implants that slowly pump medicine into the blood stream. Now, a research team from MIT has has developed a biodegradable, ring-like device made of a polymer that can deliver drugs to the stomach over the course of a week without putting the patient at risk.
The device is made of a nontoxic, degradable polyester gel and is designed to be flexible. The ring-shaped device is swallowed like a pill and unfurls in the stomach to a size larger than the opening connecting the stomach to the intestines, preventing the ring from potentially causing intestinal blockage. The device is also pH-activated and made to withstand the acidity of the stomach, but will dissolve in the pH-neutral intestines, minimizing the risk of blockage and infections. A prototype of the device was tested in pigs, and the ring expanded within 15 minutes and lasted for seven days before dissolving easily.
MIT is beginning negotiations with a biotechnical company to bring the device to the market, allowing for the release of drugs for up to 30 days. Researchers also believe the device could have other medical uses such as developing ingestible electronics to monitor conditions.
(Source: Popular Science)