In medicine, many medications contain molecules too large to be easily absorbed through the intestinal wall, so these so-called biologics — like the insulin administered to diabetics — are injected into the body. Researchers are studying ways that such injections could eventually be replaced with pills, but there are plenty of challenges involved.
Some substances, known as transient permeability enhancers, allow the intestines to absorb larger molecules, but they work for only tens of minutes, which means researchers must understand how and when to administer them relative to the medication they help patients absorb. To do so, researchers are building computational fluid dynamics models of the human digestive system so that they can better understand how and when different kinds of pills break down in the body. (Image credit: Macro Room, source; via CU Engineering; submitted by Jenny B.)