Experimental oral pills auto-release insulin as needed

April 12, 2021
Experimental oral pills auto-release insulin as needed

People with diabetes can manage their condition with daily subcutaneous injections, but they can be difficult to administer and unpleasant. Researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYU Abu Dhabi) have developed novel insulin capsules that can survive the trip through the stomach to the bloodstream, and only release their payload when glucose levels are high. It will provide a much needed relief for diabetics everywhere when the capsules are finally safe for human consumption.

To summarise, the researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi have created what they call gastro-resistant imine-linked-covalent organic framework nanoparticles (nCOFs). These capsules load fragile insulin molecules between nanosheets that protect it from the harsh environment of the stomach, and then make their way into the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier.

Once the nCOFs are in the blood, they can automatically monitor the patient’s insulin levels and only release the drug when it’s needed; it uses glucose to fit through the pores in the nCOF, so as levels of it rise it will be forced inside the nanoparticles, where it physically dislodges the insulin contained inside.

That also works the other way, so the insulin release slows as blood glucose levels fall again.

In tests in diabetic rats, the team showed that nCOFs brought the animals’ blood glucose levels back to normal in just two hours of swallowing the nanoparticles. The nanoparticles themselves have a high capacity for insulin, of around 65 weight-percent, and are the first that can be triggered by hyperglycemia.

“Our work overcomes insulin oral delivery barriers by using insulin-loaded nCOF nanoparticles which exhibit insulin protection in the stomach as well as a glucose-responsive release,” said research scientist Farah Benyettou.”This technology responds quickly to an elevation in blood sugar, but would promptly shut off to prevent insulin overdose and will dramatically improve the well-being of diabetic patients.”

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Category: Pharmaceuticals

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