Oral Insulin for Diabetes Sufferers
Many people unfortunate enough to have diabetes also have to suffer the negative consequences of having to have insulin shots every day. Yet this could be about to change with a new insulin strip that is being developed that affixes to the intestinal tract wall surface and discharges its hormone after being ingested. Orally-administered insulin is nothing new but it has always been difficult to achieve in practice due to its susceptibility to digestive system enzymes that degrade the hormone before sufficient amounts of it have been absorbed. Yet researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have produced an insulin-loaded strip which would be transported through the body within a protecting polymer shell. By putting the patch incorporating insulin and an intestinal wall-permeation enhancer inside a stomach acid-resistant coated pill, the scientists developed a tablet that dissolves once in the right location within the intestinal tract allowing the insulin strip to affix itself to the intestinal wall prior to delivering the drug. The scientists experimented with rat and swine intestinal tracts to analyse both the ‘sticking’ power of the strip and the efficiency of delivery of its contents, with the most optimal concentrations of the permeation enhancer and drug combination able to trigger blood glucose levels to drop to about 70 percent of normal levels. If human trials of the insulin strip prove as effective, it will be very good news indeed for diabetes-suffers everywhere.