Smart Insulin Patch Likely to Save Diabetics from Painful Injections
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that researchers from the University of North Carolina and NC State University have developed a smart insulin patch that can save patients of Type 1 Diabetes from painful injections. The patch is a tiny thin square which can detect increase in blood sugar level and secrete doses of insulin using more than hundred tiny needles each about the size of an eyelash.
The patch is about the size of a postage stamp which allows the user to wear it comfortably and the best part about this marvel is that it can deliver precise amount of insulin when the body requires it the most. This relieves the patient as he no more has to remember his next dose unlike injections. The new patch lowered blood glucose level in a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes for up to nine hours.
Scientists who developed the patch chose to replicate the body’s natural insulin generators known as beta cells. The cells produce and store insulin in tiny sacs or artificial vesicles. The vesicles perform in a similar way out of two natural materials- hyaluronic acid (HA) which is used in cosmetics and nitroimidazole (NI); an organic compound used in diagnostics. The two materials are connected to create a new molecule- one end is water loving or hydrophilic (HA) and the other end is water repellent or hydrophobic (NI). The hydrophilic end points outwards whereas the hydrophobic end points inwards. Researchers then inserted a core of solid insulin and enzymes in the vesicles to detect glucose.
When blood sugar level increased the excess glucose entered the artificial vesicles using up the oxygen while the enzymes on board converted them into gluconic acid. This transformed the hydrophobic end into hydrophilic causing the vesicles to dissolve. The insulin stored in the vesicle thus flowed into the bloodstream.