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A group of scientists, including the prolific entrepreneur Robert Langer, recently came up with an unconventional way to deliver drugs to the human body. And in doing so they drew inspiration from a well-known adage: Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.

The researchers wanted to take proteins and other compounds that typically have to be given by injection or intravenous drip, repackage them, and ferry them directly into the stomach in a device small enough to stick inside a swallowable capsule. But to get it to work, they needed the device to land in the exact same spot every time and stay put in a churning stomach.


They found a model in the leopard tortoise shell — which, like a Weeble, can bounce back to an upright position after being flipped around. In tests on rats and pigs, the device was able to deliver an effective dose of insulin and then pass out through the body. Their work was published Thursday in Science.

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