Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis is currently studying a brand new way of delivering drugs to patients, one that involves tiny robots with needles made of sugar that could change the way treatments are administered for certain diseases.
The company has partnered with startup Rani Therapeutics, Reuters reports, hoping to develop complex biotech drugs that would be delivered by robotic pills rather than regular injections. The Rani capsule is swallowed like a normal pill, but it’s far more advanced than a regular drug. The robotic pill would contain needles made of sugar that would be pushed into the wall of the intestines to inject a drug into the bloodstream.
The pill would make drug administration even more convenient for patients, potentially replacing traditional and more invasive methods.
It’s not known what kind of therapies this technology might be used for, and Rani told Reuters that it will run feasibility studies for up to two years to evaluate which Novartis medicines can be used with the robotic pill.
According to the startup, the Rani pill could potentially be used for delivering insulin to diabetes patients, as well as treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.
For Novartis, this wouldn’t be the first project that uses tech for medicinal purposes. The company has already licensed technology from Google to manufacture smart contact lenses that would be able to track blood glucose levels or restore the eye’s ability to focus. Novartis has also entered an agreement with Proteus Digital Health to manufacture tablets containing embedded chips that would be able to tell whether patients have taken their meds or not.