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Papers of the Week

2021 Feb 19

Drug Deliv Transl Res

A robotic pill for oral delivery of biotherapeutics: safety, tolerability, and performance in healthy subjects.


Dhalla AK, Al-Shamsie Z, Beraki S, Dasari A, Fung LC, Fusaro L, Garapaty A, Gutierrez B, Gratta D, Hashim M, Horlen K, Karamchedu P, Korupolu R, Liang E, Ong C, Owyang Z, Salgotra V, Sharma S, Syed B, Syed M, et al.
Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2021 Feb 19.
PMID: 33604838.


Biotherapeutics are highly efficacious, but the pain and inconvenience of chronic injections lead to poor patient compliance and compromise effective disease management. Despite innumerable attempts, oral delivery of biotherapeutics remains unsuccessful due to their degradation in the gastrointestinal (GI) environment and poor intestinal absorption. We have developed an orally ingestible robotic pill (RP) for drug delivery, which protects the biotherapeutic drug payload from digestion in the GI tract and auto-injects it into the wall of the small intestine as a safe, pain-free injection since the intestines are insensate to sharp stimuli. The payload is delivered upon inflation of a balloon folded within the RP, which deflates immediately after drug delivery. Here we present results from two clinical studies demonstrating the safety, tolerability and performance of the RP in healthy humans. In the first study, three versions of the RP (A, B and C) were evaluated, which were identical in all respects except for the diameter of the balloon. The RP successfully delivered a biotherapeutic (octreotide) in 3 out of 12 subjects in group A, 10 out of 20 subjects in group B and 16 out of 20 subjects in group C, with a mean bioavailability of 65 ± 9% (based on successful drug deliveries in groups A and B). Thus,  reliability of drug delivery with the RP ranged from 25 to 80%, with success rate directly related to balloon size. In a separate study, the deployment of the RP was unaffected by fed or fasting conditions suggesting that the RP may be taken with or without food. These promising clinical data suggest that biotherapeutics currently administered parenterally may be safely and reliably delivered via this versatile, orally ingestible drug delivery platform.