Entrega, other startups make strides in needle-free delivery

Boston startup Entrega is developing a novel drug-delivery capsule that could give the company a foothold in a $200 billion arena just begging for more needle-free options, paving the way for the more elegant delivery of treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's, cancer and arthritis.

To deliver large-molecule drugs that normally require intravenous injections, Entrega is creating a capsule that releases tiny, drug-coated wafers in the small intestine that attach themselves to the intestine's internal lining and release drugs from there like miniature versions of a dermal patch, according to a report in The Boston Globe. MIT professor and entrepreneur Robert Langer, who heads the board at Entrega, mentioned the risks and possibilities associated with the method.

"If it's successful, it would be very high-reward," Langer told the Globe. "Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions working on less painful ways to deliver these drugs, and I'd think 95% of patients would probably prefer a capsule to an injection."

And other companies are homing in on more tolerable treatments, the Globe reports, like Kala Pharmaceuticals, another Langer venture, with a nanoparticle solution to macular degeneration of the eye; SpringLeaf Therapeutics, with an immunoglobulin delivery patch; and MicroCHIPS, with its remote-controlled drug-delivery implant. The companies have raised $11.5 million, $20 million and $70 million respectively during the development process so far.

- here's the Globe story