Scientists Develop Ingestible Robot That Delivers Insulin Without The Need For External Needles

Ingestible Robot That Delivers Insulin
The Biorobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna

A Diabetes Robot Implant would make use of magnetic insulin ingestibles to help diabetics get their required dose that would help regulate their blood sugar. This venture was created by a team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Italy. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the researchers describe their device and how well it worked when tested with pigs.

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In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. That’s why people suffering from this condition needs to get insulin from shots. There are also external and internal pumps that deliver insulin in the body. But those are also painful. This new implantable insulin pump can be refilled by swallowing small capsules.

The device, called PILLSID (PILl-refiLled implanted System for Intraperitoneal Delivery), is under study and conceptualization, particularly as it would be on a person’s body for a long time, and meant to help those that face hardships with diabetes.

PILLSID involves two separate parts. One part is an internal insulin dispenser that a doctor would surgically implant in the user’s abdomen. The other is a magnetic capsule loaded with the hormone.

A drug delivery system
The robotic drug delivery system includes an implant near the intestines and magnetic capsules that would resupply the implant with medicine. (The Biorobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna)

Anytime the dispenses needs to be refilled, the user takes one of the pills. The pill then travels down their digestive system until it reaches the point where the device is implanted near their small intestine. The device then uses the power of magnets to rotate the capsule into position and then punctures it with a retractable needle and pumps the refill of insulin into a reservoir, reports EndGadget.

One of the most convenient things about this system is that the dispenser charges wirelessly, limiting the number of interventions a doctor needs to maintain the device. Once the capsule is empty, it continues its travel down the digestive system until the user releases it with his stool.

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The researchers tested their device on three diabetic pigs. The found the system could successfully manage their insulin levels for several hours. In some instances, they found bodily fluids from the pigs would leak into the robot. So as a next step, the team is working on sealing the device better.

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Cathy Russey
Cathy Russey () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies and specialized in writing about the latest medical wearables and enabling technologies on the market. Cathy can be contacted at info(at)