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eWear Seminar: Interfacing from the Inside – Ingestible devices deliver therapeutic injections

Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30am

Alex Abramson, Ph.D. Candidate in Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: Insulin and other injectable biologic drugs have transformed the treatment of patients with diabetes. Patients, however, prefer therapies which can be delivered orally, and these drugs are not readily absorbed into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract. In this talk, I will describe technologies validated in large animal models which enable the oral delivery of biologic drugs by predictably localizing to the gut wall and delivering drug loaded posts into the tissue to allow for systemic uptake. Inspired by the leopard tortoise’s ability to passively reorient, these devices autonomously self-right to position their injection mechanisms towards the tissue and insert drug posts directly through the mucosa while avoiding perforation. In vivo studies in rats and swine and ex vivo studies in human tissue support the materials and method’s safety. Using insulin as a model drug, I will show that the devices deliver similar API plasma levels to subcutaneous administration. Furthermore, I will show how simple electronics can be added to this self-orienting system to enable additional therapeutic applications. Compared to injections through the skin, gastric injection pills may soon provide a discreet, cost-effective, and pain free method of drug delivery and human-device interaction.

Bio: Alex Abramson is a Ph.D. Candidate in Chemical Engineering at MIT studying under Professor Robert Langer. Alex is originally from St. Louis Missouri. During his Ph.D., he worked closely with Novo Nordisk pharmaceuticals and gastroenterologist Giovanni Traverso to develop a commercially viable and safe oral insulin pill with a comparable efficacy to subcutaneous injections. His work, published in Science, has received considerable press coverage from such news outlets as the New York Times, NPR and Wired. He is also involved in the public health sector and has performed research on quantifying the quality of life impact that innovations in the biomedical space have on patients worldwide. In his spare time, Alex volunteers as a math tutor on Friday mornings at a local Cambridge elementary school, and he mentors up-and-coming start-ups at MIT through the school’s Sandbox program.