UCLA bioengineers and colleagues at UNC School of Medicine and MIT have further developed a smart insulin-delivery patch that could one day monitor and manage glucose levels in people with diabetes and deliver the necessary insulin dosage. The adhesive patch, about the size of a quarter, is simple to manufacture and intended for once-a-day use.
The study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering , describes research conducted on mice and pigs. The research team, led by Zhen Gu, PhD, professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, is applying for FDA approval of clinical trials in humans. Gu and colleagues conducted the initial successful tests of the smart insulin patch in mice in 2015 in North Carolina.
Our main goal is to enhance health and improve the quality of life for people who have diabetes. This smart patch takes away the need to constantly check one's blood sugar and then inject insulin if and when it's needed. It mimics the regulatory function of the pancreas but in a way that's easy to use." Zhen Gu, former professor in the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering
The adhesive patch monitors blood sugar, or glucose. It has doses of insulin pre-loaded in very tiny microneedles, less than one-millimeter in length that deliver medicine quickly when the blood sugar levels reach a certain threshold. When blood sugar returns to normal, the patch's insulin delivery also slows down. The researchers said the advantage is that it can help prevent overdosing of insulin, which can lead to hypoglycemia, seizures, coma or even death.
"It has always been a dream to achieve insulin-delivery in a smart and convenient manner," said study co-author John Buse, MD, PhD, director of the UNC Diabetes Center and the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "This smart insulin patch, if proven safe and effective in human trials, would revolutionize the patient experience of diabetes care."
Insulin is a hormone naturally produced in the pancreas helps the body regulate glucose, which comes from food-consumption and provides the body with energy. Insulin is the molecular key that helps move glucose from the bloodstream to the cells for energy and storage. Type 1 diabetes occurs when a person's body does not naturally produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not efficiently use the insulin that is produced. In either case, a regular dosage of insulin is prescribed to manage the disease, which affects more than 400 million people worldwide. Related Stories
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