Did You See This?

Six-Armed Pill

An innovative mechanism for safely time-releasing medication.

A vexing problem in medicine is getting patients to successfully finish a complete course of medication without missing doses. This video presents an intriguing solution developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital: a pill that unfolds into a star.

The star has six arms made  of the rigid polymer polycaprolactone. Each contains one dose of medicine. They’re all attached to a central rubber-like core that allows the star to be folded and slipped into a capsule.

When the capsule is dissolved in the stomach, the star unfolds into a shape just big enough to remain in the stomach without passing further into the digestive system—but small enough not to cause a blockage. In about two weeks, the arms break off and pass into the digestive tract and safely out of the body.

Really, the star is like a little pharmacy stationed in the stomach, ready to dispense doses at the desired times. The team is still working on a mechanism to control the timing.