Polymers are now being used within an ingestible capsule that can deliver drugs and sense environmental conditions within the body. The injectable capsule is swallowed, where it lodges in the patient’s stomach and can last for up to a month. The senor within the capsule communicates wirelessly with a smartphone or other external device through Bluetooth technology. Once swallowed, the pill can release drugs on demand or relay diagnostic information to a doctor thru a wireless device.
These electronic pills are used for a variety of diseases and are especially useful for conditions that require the administering of drugs over a long period of time. Also, their ability to sense environmental conditions is useful in cases where patients are at high risk of infection, like patients receiving chemotherapy. If infection is detected by the sensor, the capsule could immediately dispense antibiotics to treat the infection.
The researchers of this products used 3D printing technology to design the complex elements of all the capsule components. The ingestible capsule is swallowed and then unfolds in the stomach into a Y-shape. The shape allows the device to remain lodged in the stomach for up to a month before breaking into smaller pieces, eventually passing through the digestive track. One of the arms of the Y contains four compartments, each can be filled with a variety of drugs. The Polymers role in this innovative drug dispensing technology is to coat the medications so they are dispensed gradually over several days. The capsules were built using layers of stiff and flexible polymers, tough enough to withstand stomach acid. The device is powered by a small oxide battery.
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