Administering multiple insulin injections is one of the many daily burdens for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) – particularly among those with a needle phobia. However, a team of scientists is hoping to change all that with the development of an insulin pill to manage the condition.
Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Cambridge, MA, have created a pill with a complex coating designed to shield the insulin from the acidic environment of the stomach and only dissolve in the small intestine. While other investigators have experimented with oral therapy in the past, many were unsuccessful because the pills failed to safely carry insulin beyond the barriers of the digestive system and into the bloodstream.
"Once ingested, insulin must navigate a challenging obstacle course before it can be effectively absorbed into the bloodstream," explains senior study author, Dr. Samir Mitragotri, in an interview with Medical News Today.
Insulin delivered orally is a preferable alternative because it has the ability to reach the blood in a way comparable to the natural release of insulin by the pancreas, while also lessening the adverse effects associated with repeated insulin injections.
Easily manufactured and not readily perishable, the new pill would be more cost-effective than other therapies and could also be stored for up to two months at room temperature.
Further studies will be conducted in animal models, followed by clinical trials in humans. Researchers are confident that oral insulin delivery would revolutionize T1D treatment and significantly improve the quality of life of people with diabetes worldwide.
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