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Robotic pills could replace osteoporosis injections

Posted on the 20th July 2023

Osteoprosis Injection

A breakthrough ‘robotic’ technology that converts injections into an oral pill has demonstrated a high success rate of drug delivery.

According to clinical trial data presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting (ENDO 2023), RT-102, a swallowable auto-injector in pill form, could replace injections, delivering medication efficiently and painlessly.

When swallowed, the robotic pill is delivered to its target site, the stomach, intact, due to an enteric coating that protects the drug from stomach acids.

At this point, a tiny self-inflating balloon equipped with a microsyringe emerges from the pill and releases the drug.

Given that the intestines do not have pain response to needles, the injection is painless. The needle itself then dissolves rapidly, passing safely out of the body while the medication is absorbed.

A recent study featured RT-102 containing a dose of the drug teriparatide (PTH 1-34), which has been used as an injectable osteoporosis treatment for decades.

The pill’s safety, tolerability, and movement through the body were evaluated in 39 healthy women in the Phase I clinical study.

Participants were divided into three groups, with two groups receiving various doses delivered via robotic pill and a third group receiving a standard teriparatide injection.

Blood samples and fluoroscopic imaging were used to track drug concentration and the movement of the pill through participants’ bodies.

The study found the bioavailability – the drug’s ability to be absorbed and used by the body – delivered by the robotic pill to match or surpass that of the injected teriparatide.

Arvinder Dhalla, one of the study’s researchers, is confident that the device will be able to deliver the drug safely and efficiently: ‘We believe this study provides the first clinical evidence of safe and successful delivery of the osteoporosis drug teriparatide through an oral robotic pill.’

The pill can accommodate therapeutic peptides, proteins, nucleotides and antibodies.

The promising trial results suggest that an oral alternative to the painful injections required to treat chronic conditions could be on the horizon.

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