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Scientists Have Made A Pill With Loads Of Tiny Needles Sticking Out Of It

Could you stomach it?

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But sometimes a needle is the best way to deliver drugs.

Capsules degrade in your digestive system when you swallow them. A lot of the time that's integral to getting the drugs into your system, but sometimes it's a pain. The pH of your digestive system can also cause problems.

So for some drugs, needles are the only way – and right now that means an injection.

So, thought a group of scientists from MIT and Harvard Medical School, why not attach a load of tiny needles to a pill?

I mean, there are several reasons that spring to mind, but anyway.

A pill-needle combo should satisfy everyone. Patients are happy because they don't have to have an injection, doctors are happy because they don't have to give anyone an injection, and the drugs are happy because they have an efficient delivery method and get to do their job. Yay!

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Here are the two concepts they came up with: hollow microneedles, and solid microneedles.

Traverso et al. / Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Both concepts involve coating the needles in something that will allow them safe passage to the desired location in a patients gastrointestinal tract.

When the pill reaches the right place, the coating dissolves.

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Then the drugs are either released through the needles (for the hollow ones) or are part of the needles (for the solid ones).

Right now it's just a concept.

The scientists tested a microneedle pill in a pig's digestive tract and found that the pill managed to pass through safely. Next step: developing the concept further, so we might be able to use them in humans one day.

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