Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a holy grail of insulin in a pill that could help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in check. Researchers have created a pill which could dramatically transform the way diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in check.
For up to 40 million people with Type-1 diabetes worldwide, a painful needle prick once or twice daily is necessary for delivering the insulin that their bodies cannot produce on their own, and falling to adhere to the regimen can lead to poor glycemic control causing serious health complications. It is hoped the oral delivery of insulin could eliminate the need for painful injections.
Trials are already under way and results so far show that the tablet works well at delivering insulin into the bloodstream. It is an oral form of Victoza, a medicine already approved for use in diabetes, which turbo-charges insulin production in the pancreas, the organ responsible for making the hormone.
The new approach carries insulin in an ionic liquid comprised of choline and geranic acid that is put inside a capsule with an acid-resistant enteric coating. In research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences outlined how they found a way to deliver insulin orally.
Scientists have been trying for years to develop an insulin pill for diabetes, ever since the discovery of the hormone by Canadian doctors, Banting and Best, 80 years ago. If trials are successful, it could mean many diabetics are freed from the burden of daily injections to make up for the body's inability to make enough insulin.
"Once ingested, insulin must navigate a challenging obstacle course before it can be effectively absorbed into the bloodstream," said Samir Mitragotri, Professor at the Harvard University.
They said the pill could also mitigate many of the disease's life-threatening side effects that result from patients avoiding insulin therapy, which is administered from an injection under the skin or delivered by an insulin pump. The major stumbling block has been the fact that insulin is easily destroyed by digestive juices in the stomach before it can get into the bloodstream.
The body needs insulin to help muscle cells absorb glucose from our diets and use it a as fuel for energy.The enteric coating is biocompatible, easy to manufacture, and can be stored for up to two months at room temperature without degrading.
“But many people fail to adhere to that regimen due to pain, phobia of needles, and the interference with normal activities,” said Samir Mitragotri and Hansjorg Wyss, two of the report’s authors. “The consequences of the resulting poor glycemic control can lead to serious health complications.”
Trials of the pill are taking place in Israel and Holland, and doctors are hopeful the pill will become available in about three years.