News Updates
20 Aug 2018
Diabetes: The insulin pill may finally be here

Individuals with type 1 diabetes must inject themselves with the required dose of insulin daily to manage their condition. In the future, injections may no longer be necessary; scientists are developing a viable way of delivering insulin in pill form.

Type 1 diabetes is a less widespread form of the disease that, unlike type 2 diabetes, is often hereditary and non-preventable.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system wrongly attacks and damages the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that is key to regulating blood sugar levels.

Unmanaged, type 1 diabetes could cause many health problems due to the unregulated blood sugar levels.

To prevent complications and keep the condition under control, people diagnosed with this type of diabetes must receive daily doses of insulin delivered into the bloodstream through either injections or insulin pumps.

But these methods are cumbersome, and multiple daily injections are disruptive and unpleasant — especially to individuals who may have needle phobia.

Administering insulin orally, in pill form, would be a preferable alternative. But unfortunately, insulin quickly deteriorates when coming into contact with gastric acid, or digestive enzymes.

And, researchers have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to develop a coating that would safely carry insulin beyond the obstacles of the digestive system and into the bloodstream.

Recently, however, a team of specialists from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Cambridge, MA, have come up with a pill that, they say, is able to do this job.

"Once ingested, insulin must navigate a challenging obstacle course before it can be effectively absorbed into the bloodstream," says senior study author Samir Mitragotri.

Mitragotri and team describe their research, and the insulin-delivering pill they developed, in an article now published in the journal PNAS.