Tiny Motors Deliver Ulcer Medication in Mouse Stomachs

The mini machines treated infection somewhat better than antibiotics plus the typical proton pump inhibitor medication. 

Shawna Williams
Shawna Williams

Shawna was an editor at The Scientist from 2017 through 2022. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Colorado College and a graduate certificate and science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

View full profile.

Learn about our editorial policies.

micromotors and stomach illustrationDrug-delivering micromotors (green) are propelled through the stomach by hydrogen peroxide bubbles.LABORATORY FOR NANOBIOELECTRONICS AT UC SAN DIEGOResearchers have built drug-delivery capsules that neutralize stomach acid and use the resulting hydrogen peroxide bubbles to propel themselves and deliver an antibiotic. When tested in mice, the “micromotors” proved slightly more effective than the same dose of antibiotic delivered orally along with an acidity-lowering proton pump inhibitor, researchers report yesterday (August 16) in Nature Communications.

Combatting the Helicobacter pylori bacteria that cause ulcers is a challenge because stomach acid can destroy antibiotics before they have a chance to work, reports New Scientist. To get around this, the drugs are given together with proton pump inhibitors that make the stomach less acidic, but long-term use of the inhibitors can cause side effects.

So researchers led by Joseph Wang and Liangfang Zhang of the University of California, San Diego, devised...

See “Making Micromotors Biocompatible”

Chemist Thomas Mallouk at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the study tells New Scientist, “It’s a really nifty and impressive application. Micromotors are still new, but their impact will be big.”

Such drug-delivery devices could also potentially enable oral treatment of diabetes by preventing stomach acid from breaking down insulin, reports the International Business Times.

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?