New Insulin Pill Being Developed

diabetesWith over 29 million people living in the US having diabetes, finding better methods of insulin is a top priority for scientists. A new insulin pill is being developed to help people manage their blood sugar levels in a pain-free way.

Currently, the most common method of insulin is by way of daily injections along with finger pricks to monitor blood sugar levels throughout the day. This is a major problem for some diabetes patients who have an aversion to needles and don’t like the thought of daily injections. There are  numerous cases where patients, either diagnosed or undiagnosed, put off insulin treatment because of their fear of needles and the pain they perceive them to bring. This, of course, can have devastating repercussions for the patients health. This problem has fueled the science community to find better ways to provide care for diabetes patients. 

The researchers hope to soon bring the pain-free insulin pill to the market to help alleviate some of the anxiety patients hold towards managing their insulin. Samir Mitragotri, a Professor in the Chemical Engineering Dept. at the University of California, Santa Barbara highlights the need of an alternative option for patients dealing with their daily insulin injections. Mitragotri specializes in targeted drug delivery and states, “With diabetes, there’s a tremendous need for oral delivery….People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge.”

The new insulin pill would circumvent the discomfort associated with daily needle injections and this could potentially lead to more effective dosages and better care overall for diabetes. 

Aside from the obvious benefits of  oral drug delivery over needle based drug delivery, the insulin  pill also has the benefit of  taking  a more direct route to the patients liver.  Mitragotri stated, “When you deliver insulin by injection, it goes first through the peripheral bloodstream and then to blood circulation in the liver.” The pill takes a more direct route in providing effective insulin management. In addition, the thought of taking a pill, versus using a needle, can also provide tremendous psychological relief for a patient when it comes to mentally accepting the responsibility of diabetes management.

Oral insulin options have been sought after for some time now, but the primary obstacle that has faced scientists and chemists is in developing a medication that is capable of delivering the medicine past the chaotic proteolytic environment in the stomach and intestine without destroying the important proteins along the way. The new pill being worked on addresses this in it’s enteric-coated capsules combined with insulin-loaded mucoadhesive polymer patches. This combination has enabled the pill to successfully maneuver it’s way through the bodies harsh stomach acids and still be able to deliver the medicine to the small intestine.



Image: Steve Buissinne

Source: Laboratory Equipment

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