(HealthyResearch.com) – No matter how you look at it, managing diabetes can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Type 1 diabetics must check their blood sugar levels and inject themselves with insulin throughout the day. They also run the risk of suffering serious, potentially deadly, complications if they misjudge a dose.
People with type 2 diabetes might control their blood sugar by taking pills or a combination of pills and injections, but their lives can be just as dominated by fluctuating blood sugar levels. Keeping numbers stable, and consistently so, can be a lot to keep up with.
A recent technological breakthrough, a smart insulin patch that could deliver insulin as the body needs it, could simplify countless lives worldwide. The best part of all? The patches are small — no larger than a coin!
New Potential Insulin Therapy
An article written by researchers at the University of North Carolina Biomedical Engineering Department and published in early 2020 describes an innovative patch designed to simulate the kind of insulin regulation you’d see in normal pancreatic functioning. The patch has an insulin-loaded microneedle that releases the medicine in response to low blood sugar. The key is the polymer mix the developers use to enclose the insulin, one that responds specifically to the presence of glucose. High levels cause a chemical response that allows for the controlled release of insulin; as the patient’s blood sugar levels balance out, the chemical reaction eases up and insulin release stops.
The microneedles are less than a millimeter long, making the patches a low-pain option, while still able to penetrate deep enough into the skin to deliver the medicine. Experiments on 55-pound minipigs showed a patch roughly the size of a quarter could effectively control type 1 diabetes for about 20 hours.
Improving on Current Options
Researchers believe this system may be more effective and easier to manufacture than existing insulin delivery systems. Currently, diabetes patients who don’t want to inject daily have the option to use an insulin pump, but the devices are bulky, expensive, and can malfunction or break. The new patch could render the pump obsolete. Its developers have recently applied for approval to move on to the next stage: human trials. If all goes well, a saleable model could be within reach in the next few years.
Diabetes sufferers may soon have an innovative new tool for treating their condition — one that could prove safer, more effective, and less complicated than current options. And researchers are looking for other conditions their new technology might benefit, possibly making transdermal patches the future in treating other conditions that require drug therapy. We’ll have more on this exciting development as soon as the clinical trials are underway.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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