Hate swallowing pills? This new MIT invention is for you.

A "drug-delivering gel" could change the game for administering medicine to people worldwide.

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have created a gel that could make it easier for children and adults who have trouble swallowing pills to take their medications. Matt Pickett and Dylan Freitas

For children and adults alike, there are pills that are hard to swallow.

A team of researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital believe they’ve solved that problem with a gel made from plant-based oils, like sesame.

This gel can be made in a variety of different textures from a “thickened beverage” to a substance similar to yogurt, according to a post from the MIT News Office.

“This platform will change our capacity for what we can do for kids, and also for adults who have difficulty receiving medication. Given the simplicity of the system and its low cost, it could have a tremendous impact on making it easier for patients to take medications,” said Giovanni Traverso, a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior author of the study about the gel.


During the process of finding the right set of ingredients for the gel, researchers tried plant-based oils such as sesame, cottonseed, and flaxseed. These were combined with some kinds of “edible gelling agents” such as beeswax or rice bran wax.

Through this process, researchers discovered the gel’s different potential textures. The gel can also be stored without being refrigerated and therefore can be used in regions that this kind of technology wouldn’t usually reach.

To make sure the gels tasted good enough for the masses, researchers worked with consulting firm Sensory Spectrum and panels of trained tasters to land on a combination of oils that had the most appealing flavor.

Researchers chose to test out this gel with drugs that prevent maladies such as malaria, parasites, and bacterial infections.

“Based on that list, infectious diseases really stood out in terms of what a country needs to protect its children,” said Ameya Kirtane, an instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

The researchers have now obtained FDA approval to run a phase I clinical trial for one of their gel formulas which they hope to run at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Clinical Investigation within the next few months.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com