Single ‘smart’ insulin injection regulates glucose levels in mice and minipigs up to one week

Key Takeaways

  • A team of scientists has developed a type of “smart” insulin that allows for automatic control of blood glucose (sugar) levels for an extended period of time.
  • When tested in mouse and minipig models, the “smart” insulin successfully regulated blood glucose levels for up to one week after just one injection.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Treatment for people with the disease includes a modified diet and regular injections of insulin. Many diabetics must inject themselves more than once a day, a regimen that is both painful and difficult—the skin at injection sites tends to harden over time, making it difficult to insert a needle.

Because of such difficulties, medical researchers have continued to look for new treatment options. In a new effort, a team of chemists, polymer scientists and drug delivery specialists at Zhejiang University, working with a pair of colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has developed a kind of insulin that reacts with certain agents in the body, allowing for automatic control of glucose (sugar) levels in the blood for an extended period of time. In their studies, the new insulin allowed for more insulin to be automatically released into the blood when it is needed (such as after a meal) and less when it is not. In their paper published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the group describes how they created their insulin, how it works, and how well it performed when given to diabetic mice and minipigs.

The researchers suggest their findings show promise for a new type of treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes. They will continue testing their “smart” insulin in animals, and, if all continues to go well, they will move to human trials.

Source: Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress, December 29, 2023; see source article