Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Insulin Capsule

PostedMay 11, 2008

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Randy Atkins:  Insulin is a readily digested protein.  But it might be protected within a capsule made of a specially engineered gel…

Nicholas Peppas:  That will not be affected, in principle, by the highly acidic pH of the stomach.

Randy Atkins:  Nicholas Peppas, a chemical engineer at the University of Texas, says lab tests are promising.  His gel casing seals insulin in, and should easily pass through the stomach to the less acidic conditions in the upper small intestine.

Nicholas Peppas:  And only then will that particular material start expanding, swelling, thus allowing the incorporated protein to release locally.

Randy Atkins:  Peppas says long chemical anchors in the capsule would unfurl and temporarily attach to the small intestine ensuring proper dosage to the bloodstream.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103.5 FM, WTOP Radio.

Human tests are at least a year away.  To find out more about this story, go to and type in keyword "Engineering Innovation" or go to