People with Type 1 diabetes may no longer need to inject multiple shots of insulin everyday to control their blood sugar level once “smart” insulins that scientists have been developing pass a series of trials.
Scientists are optimistic that these smart insulins could revolutionize the way diabetes is managed as a single dose of these would keep circulating in the body, turning on and off when needed, BBC reported.
Currently, people suffering from Type 1 diabetes have to repeat blood tests and injections throughout the day to keep their blood sugar in check. Without insulin injections, their blood sugar level can get dangerously high. However, these injections can also make blood sugar levels drop too low.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has been a source of funds for research on smart insulins.
“For many people living with type 1 diabetes, achieving good blood glucose control is a daily battle. Taking too much insulin can drive someone’s glucose levels too low, leading to a ‘hypo’, while taking too little means glucose levels rise too high, which can have a serious cumulative health impact in the long term,” said Karen Addington, chief executive of the Foundation in the U.K.
“A smart insulin would eliminate hypos – which are what many with type 1 diabetes hate most. It would enable people with type 1 diabetes to achieve near perfect glucose control, all from a single injection per day or even per week. That’s really exciting,” she added.
However, it will take years of trials before treatments can be made available to patients. For now, scientists have found that the smart insulins work on mice. Human trials will be held soon.
“Years of further research and clinical trials will be needed to find out if a similar drug could be used safely and effectively by people with diabetes,” Dr Richard Elliott of Diabetes U.K. told BBC.
There are different types of smart insulins in development. All are designed to automatically switch on and off depending on the diabetic’s level of blood sugar, making regulation easier and more convenient for people suffering from the disease.
The smart insulin being tested by Dr Danny Chou from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a chemically modified version of regular, long-acting insulin. It binds to proteins circulating the body through its extra set of molecules. While attached, the smart insulin is not activated. When blood sugar rises, glucose locks on to the smart insulin and gets it to work.
“My goal is to make life easier and safer for diabetics,” Dr Chou said.”This is an important advance in insulin therapy.”