January 19, 2011

Magnetized Pill: A Precise Prescription

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Doctors are often wary of prescribing pills to patients with gastrointestinal (GI) ailments because it is hard for the contents of pills to reach the exact area of the GI tract causing the problem. Fortunately for these and other patients, researchers at Brown University have designed a magnetic pill that can direct and keep the pill exactly where it needs to be.

"With this technology, you can now tell where the pill is placed, take some blood samples and know exactly if the pill being in this region really enhances the bioavailability of the medicine in the body," Edith Mathiowitz, professor of medical science in Brown's Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Biology and Biotechnology and senior author of the study, was quoted as saying. "It's a completely new way to design a drug delivery system."

The pill is in typical capsule form and contains a small magnet, which is pulled by an external magnet designed to find the location of the pill and implement varying amounts of force to pull it along and keep it in place.

"The most important thing is to be able to monitor the forces that you exert on the pill in order to avoid damage to the surrounding tissue," Mathiowitz was quoted as saying. "If you apply a little more than necessary force, your pill will be pulled to the external magnet, and this is a problem."

With such a provision in mind, the researchers measured out the system using cutting edge computer control and feedback technology. They used this technology to find the force range required for their system and designed their device to be able to fit into this range and withstand the range's intermagnetic forces.

After successful tests in lab rats, the researchers now hope to move on to human subjects.

"It is my hope that magnetic pill retention will be used to enable oral drug delivery solutions to previously unmet medical needs," lead author and MIT postdoctoral scholar Bryan Laulicht, was quoted as saying.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2011