The capsule delivers and injects mRNA into the stomach


MIT researchers have created an oral mRNA delivery system that could provide an alternative to injectable mRNA vaccines. It could also allow for RNA or DNA therapies designed to treat gastrointestinal diseases.

MRNA has dramatically demonstrated its therapeutic potential, providing the potency behind some of the most successful and ubiquitous COVID-19 vaccines in the world. However, not everyone is fond of injections and an oral delivery solution for these treatments would be very welcome. Oral delivery would also help to directly target the gastrointestinal tract with mRNA therapies, which is currently very difficult given the inhospitable nature of our gut and the delicate nature of the mRNA.

“Nucleic acids, particularly RNA, can be extremely sensitive to degradation, especially in the digestive tract,” said Giovanni Traverso, one of the MIT scientists who created the new delivery system. “Overcoming this challenge opens up multiple approaches to therapy, including potential oral vaccination.”

These researchers have developed vaulted capsules that can self-straighten the stomach. This design was inspired by the steep vaulted shell of the leopard turtle, which allows it to be straightened if it falls on its back. In the case of the capsule, this approach ensures that one side will always face the stomach wall, allowing the capsule to deliver mile-needle injections of the mRNA load into the stomach wall. .

Because mRNA is so delicate, the researchers incorporated it into polymeric nanoparticles that are inside the swallowable capsule. To date, researchers have tested the mRNA delivery system in mice and pigs. The delivered mRNA encoded a reporter protein, which allowed researchers to identify whether it had been successfully delivered to stomach cells.

They loaded 50 micrograms of mRNA per capsule and administered three capsules to each pig for a total of 150 micrograms. By context, conventional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine typically contain about 30-100 micrograms of mRNA. Pig stomach cells demonstrated successful mRNA uptake, suggesting that the technique may be feasible for mRNA-mediated vaccination.

Study in the newspaper The matter: Oral delivery of mRNA by capsule-mediated injections of gastrointestinal tissue


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