Nanoparticle Pills Usher Medicine Into the Future | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

Although nanomedicine is a promising area of research, scientists have been unable to figure out a way to deliver drugs using nanoparticles other than by injection, which is both distasteful and inconvenient for patients. Now, a team of researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have developed a new nanoparticle that can be absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to take a pill instead of receiving injections.


"If you were a patient and you had a choice, there's just no question," Professor Robert Langer, of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, stated in a press release. “Patients would always prefer drugs they can take orally.” 


Ultrafine particles, or nanoparticles, are between one and 100 nanometers in size. What makes nanoparticles so interesting to scientists, particularly in the field of medicine, is the fact that the physics underlying nanoparticles means that their properties are different from the properties of the bulk material. Additionally, size and surface characteristics of nanoparticles can be manipulated. Yet, nanoparticles have not yet been available as a pill because, despite their tiny size, they are unable to penetrate the intestinal lining. This is no simple feat as the lining is made of a layer of epithelial cells that join together forming impenetrable barriers known as tight junctions.