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June 23, 2007

Insulin Pill Offers Hope For 'Needle-free' Control Of Diabetes

Topics: Medicine

DiabeticsREX_228x354.jpg[Image: The new pills could mean the end of painful injections for diabetics.]

A British company, Diabetology, along with researchers at Cardiff University in Wales, has solved a crucial problem with oral insulin that will allow diabetes patients to take a pill to control their glucose levels instead of having to rely on injections. A special coating on a capsule protects insulin from acids in the stomach, allowing it to pass into the small intestine where it is absorbed:

... Once the capsule has reached the small intestine, it is dissolved and releases a mixture of insulin and other materials that enhance the absorption of the insulin through the intestinal wall. Thereafter, the insulin is transported to the liver, where it creates a store that can be drawn on by the body.

The researchers say that the mechanism by which the capsule carries insulin into the body approximates the behavior of the pancreas, the source of insulin in healthy people that releases it as it is needed.

Diabetology has already carried out a small trial of 16 patients with type 2 diabetes, the commoner type that usually develops in middle age, led by Cardiff University Professor David Owens.

Dr Steve Luzio, another researcher at the university, is to present the results of the trial at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago.

Although the details of his presentation have not been revealed, it is believed that he may announce that the oral dose taken twice daily before breakfast and before dinner, controlled glucose levels successfully in the patients treated.

Other scientists have also been looking at ways to deliver insulin by mouth without it being degraded in the stomach. Taiwanese investigators are using a chemical found in shrimp shells to protect the drug, using a "nanoparticle" shell that can protect the drug from being destroyed by stomach acid.

And inhaled insulin is already available to those diabetics with a proven needle phobia or people who have severe trouble injecting.

Cross posted from New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at June 23, 2007 11:18 AM

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