Would You Swallow a Magnetic Pill?

Swallowing a pill is one thing. Getting its ingredients to where it’s needed in the most efficient manner is quite another, especially for some time-release pills. This problem could be solved, say researchers at Brown University, with a magnetic pill that would efficiently deliver drugs at the right location in your body.

Magnetic Pill Guided by External Magnet

Magnetic pills offer an entirely new way to deliver drugs in the human body. They could help scientists locate where various drugs area most ideally absorbed in the intestine. The new gelatin capsules look just ordinary pills, but contain a tiny magnet. An external magnet would accurately sense the magnetic field between it and the pill. The force field would then help secure the pill in its correct location—an area where the pill’s ingredients would be quickly absorbed to do the most good. The system would use a very low force to sense the pill’s position and hold it. Too much force would pull the pill to the external magnet.

Pill Guidance and Monitoring

Guiding pills using external magnets is not a novel concept. But the new technology does offer a way to effectively control the forces acting on the pill. The goal is to ensure the pill is safely used as it works its way through your body. Monitoring the pill’s location is crucial, so is controlling the external magnet’s force field so the pill won’t damage surrounding tissue. To address these issues, researchers designed an external magnet system using an advanced computer control and feedback mechanism. It maintains the magnetic pill’s location in the small intestines using just the right level of inter-magnetic force.

Rat Tested

Until now, the magnetic pill system has only been tested on rats. (Testing on animals is no fun — but this is where the data lies for this health project.) The tests were safe and successful. After locking a pill in place for 12 hours in a rat’s intestine, the system required only 1/60th of the pressure that would damage a rat’s intestine. Scientists are now ready to test the pill’s ability to deliver drugs and determine absorption levels. Tests on larger animals and clinical human trials will follow.

Simpler Stomach Exams

While you’re swallowing pills, your doctor may someday recommend taking a magnetically guided pill equipped with a microscopic endoscope to see what’s ailing your stomach. Jointly developed by Olympus and Siemens, the swallowed capsule would wirelessly transmit high-res, real-time images from inside your tummy—while your doctor navigates the pill using a joystick. The 31 mm by 11 mm capsule goes down easily with water, say trial patients, who much preferred the “capsule endoscope” to conventional gastrointestinal endoscopy.

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73 comments

LB Lewis
LB Lewis4 years ago

I don't think I would swallow anything magnetic.

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Kelly Davis-steel
Kelly D4 years ago

No :/

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Rose Roma
R. R4 years ago

No, unless already in a hospital.

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Phil M.
Catrin S4 years ago

Yes why not !

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Greg Baughman
Greg Baughman4 years ago

Wesley:
(quote)311 mm by 11 mm? That is HUGE for a pill!(/quote)

I think you added a 1. 31mm is about 1 1/4" x 11mm (.4"). That's about the same size as my Metformin I take every morning.

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Janis K.
Janis K4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Barbara P.
Barbara P4 years ago

I don't take pharmaceuticals, so no, I wouldn't swallow this pill either.

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Yvette S.
Yvette S4 years ago

Thanks for the info

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Mary L.
Mary L4 years ago

I'd be concerned seeing what's happened to kids who swallow magnets.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

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