Novel Oral Insulin Could Soon Replace Insulin Injections, Study Shows

In Education

Researchers at the University of Tromsø have developed a novel, orally ingestible form of insulin, potentially concealed in chocolate, offering a more palatable and less painful treatment for the 425 million global diabetes patients. This innovation presents an alternative to traditional needle injections or insulin pumps, promising improved patient experience.

Researchers use nan-technology to encapsulate insulin

The breakthrough method employs nano-carriers, 1/10,000th the width of a human hair, to encapsulate insulin, enhancing precision. Study researcher Peter McCourt from UiT Norway’s Arctic University explained that these carriers, invisible with a standard microscope, swiftly deliver insulin to specific body areas, minimizing unwanted side effects compared to conventional syringe administration.

A joint project involving the University of Sydney, Sydney Local Health District, and UiT successfully addressed a significant challenge in oral insulin delivery. To prevent insulin breakdown in the stomach, researchers designed a protective coating. This innovation ensures the insulin’s secure passage through the digestive system, allowing it to reach the liver.

Project leader from the University of Sydney Nicholas J. Hunt said that in the context of high blood sugar, swift insulin release occurs, while low blood sugar triggers no insulin release. This technique mitigates the risk of hypoglycemia associated with injections by regulating insulin release according to blood sugar levels, resembling the natural insulin function in healthy individuals.

Oral insulin mimics pancreatic insulin

Typically, pancreatic insulin is absorbed by the liver, maintaining blood sugar stability. The nano-carrier technology imitates this process, releasing insulin in the liver and minimizing side effects such as fat accumulation and hypoglycemia observed in injections.

Oral insulin successful trials in Australia’s National Baboon Colony. Administered through sugar-free chocolate, the baboons exhibited reduced blood sugar levels. Notably, diabetic mice and rats showed no hypoglycemia or weight gain, addressing limitations in current diabetic treatments during tests.

Endo Axiom Pty Ltd. is launching human trials in 2025, prioritizing safety and hypoglycemia incidence in healthy and Type 1 diabetic participants. Trials meet rigorous quality standards and involve physician collaboration. If successful, this innovative insulin could replace injections for diabetes management in two to three years, offering a more convenient and safer option.

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