For years, physicians have used ultrasound technology to permeate skin cells and get drugs into the body subcutaneously. Now, thanks to the biotech firm Zetroz, patients may soon be able to turn to an ultrasound pill that can deliver protein-based therapies that currently require injections.
Zetroz is developing the uPill, a tiny ultrasound device that, when paired with an API, enters the body and works the same magic on cells in the gastrointestinal tract, boosting absorption rates for large-molecule drugs most commonly delivered through needles, New Scientist reports. Once the uPill has delivered its payload, it’s designed to pass harmlessly through the digestive system.
The uPill is the world’s smallest ultrasound device, Zetroz co-founder George Lewis told the magazine, and the tech can increase drug absorption rates by 10 times. The platform is currently undergoing animal trials, and while commercialization is likely years away, Lewis is optimistic that the tech can provide relief from daily injections for patients with ailments such as cancer and diabetes.
One potential barrier, however: Because each uPill is essentially a small medical device, the tech will likely run $20 to $30 a pop, according to New Scientist. The good news is the capsule is reusable once it has passed through the digestive system. The possibly vexing news for patients is that the capsule will have passed through the digestive system.