Ultrasound-mediated Targeted Drug Delivery in the Gastrointestinal Tract

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Science and Engineering


- The context of the research

Ultrasound-mediated targeted drug delivery has been a subject of significant research interest for some time. However, to apply it transorally to the gut requires technology that does not yet exist. This studentship is linked with the EPSRC-funded Sonopill programme as way to gain access to such technology and to provide an outlet for its application.

- Brief description of the context of the research including potential impact

The potential impact of the research is very high as it may allow transoral delivery of substances that have previously been impossible.

- Aims and objectives

The aim of the research is to explore the extent to which ultrasound-mediated targeted drug delivery may be combined with capsule technology and relevant drugs to provide a new treatment pathway.

- Novelty of the research methodology

The novelty of the research lies in the possibility for drug delivery via a previously impossible route.

- Alignment to EPSRC's strategies and research areas

The research lies within the EPSRC's Healthcare Technologies theme, specifically aligning with medicines and the clinical technologies in digital health technologies and therapeutic technologies.

- Its potential applications and benefits

The potential application is in the delivery of drugs that could not otherwise follow the transoral route. The benefit is that these drugs may have increased efficacy by this route.

- Any companies or collaborators involved

The project involves the University of Glasgow, the Univeristy of Dundee, King's College London, and Diagnostic Sonar Ltd.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M017079/1 26/09/2016 31/08/2021
1810028 Studentship BB/M017079/1 26/09/2016 26/08/2021 Mihnea Turcanu
Description Therapeutic ultrasound has so far been used to deliver model drugs to and through an in vitro cell layer and to the in vivo small intestine. To test delivery though the in vivo small intestine, capsules have been manufactured to test whether therapeutic ultrasound can deliver insulin though the small intestine of a live pig.

The work indicates that US has potential for applications in targeted treatment of gastrointestinal disease and oral drug delivery.
Exploitation Route Further validation is necessary before suggesting any further work.
Sectors Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description (AUTOCAPSULE) - Autonomous multimodal implantable endoscopic capsule for the gastrointestinal tract
Amount € 3,992,860 (EUR)
Funding ID 952118 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 11/2020 
End 10/2024
Description Capsule with Phased Array Transducer for Drug Delivery to the Porcine Intestinal Wall 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead the biology/therapeutic part of the project.
Collaborator Contribution The partner leads the engineering part of the project.
Impact Multi-disciplinary: engineering and biology.
Start Year 2018
Description Secondment at Curileum Discovery Ltd. 
Organisation Curileum Discovery Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Conducted research on human and porcine intestinal organoids employed for in therapeutic ultrasound projects.
Collaborator Contribution Provided the facilities and supervision.
Impact Organoids offer a more reliable in vitro model for therapeutic ultrasound experiments.
Start Year 2019
Title Capsule for drug delivery in the small intestine 
Description A capsule that can deliver any drug to the small intestine. Currently preparing to test it in pigs. The model drug chosen was insulin. 
Type Therapeutic Intervention - Drug
Current Stage Of Development Refinement. Non-clinical
Year Development Stage Completed 2020
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Impact Components have been miniaturised to fit into a capsule. Capsules have been manufactured. If insulin can be successfully delivered via this method, it may be possible to deliver orally many hard-to-deliver drugs in the future. 
Description Science Centre exhibit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Many local schools attended Meet the Scientists at the Science Centre. Many pupils approached the stand to watch the demonstrations and ask questions, which got them excited about pursuing a career in science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017