Brown Researcher Invents Diabetes Drug Delivery Method

Dec 26, 2013

A Brown University engineering professor has been recognized for her work inventing better ways to deliver drugs into the human body, including an innovation that may help diabetics.

Brown University researchers have invented a new way of delivering diabetes medicine.

Dr. Edith Mathiowitz teaches medical science and engineering at Brown. And she’s been inducted into the National Academy of Inventors for developing new methods for helping the body absorb insulin and other difficult-to-deliver drugs. Insulin, for instance, can usually only be given by injection. Taken orally, if it isn’t destroyed by the stomach, it’s too big a molecule to be absorbed where it’s needed in the intestines. Mathiowitz may have solved the problem by wrapping smaller bits of the drug in nanoparticles.

“Those nanoparticles, first of all, protect the insulin from the enzymes in the stomach," said Mathiowitz. "And then, if you make them adhesive, if you put on top of them sticking molecules, and this is done simply by coating, they can penetrate the intestinal mucosa.”

So how close are we to a diabetes pill? Mathiowitz says it’s within a decade, as long as she can secure funding to run bigger experiments with her inventions.