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Researchers from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University developed a non-invasive solution that may control glucose levels more responsively.The friendly-option solution uses artificial beta cells, which releases insulin into the bloodstream when glucose levels rise.
The AβCs are encased by a two-layered lipid membrane like a natural cell and imitates the natural function of the body to control blood sugar.A normal person has pancreas with beta cells that store insulin, a hormone that keeps the blood sugar from getting high, and releases it when needed.But people with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes have dysfunctional or a deficiency in beta cells which causes the uncontrollable rise of glucose.
The main goal is to create a new insulin delivery system that can be inserted under the skin.It can be replaced every few days or it can be applied using a painless and disposable skin patch.The researchers tested the new drug delivery system on mice.They injected a single dose of AβCs into diabetic mice that lacked beta cells and it quickly normalized the glucose levels for up to five days.
"Our plan now is to further optimize and test these synthetic cells in larger animals, develop a skin patch delivery system for them, and ultimately test them in people with diabetes," said Dr.Zhen Gu, a professor in the Joint UNC/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering and the principal investigator of the study.
The new solution needs further study and optimization before any tests for humans may be performed, according to Dr.John Buse, chief of the Division of Endocrinology at UNC and director of the UNC Diabetes Care Center.
Current Insulin Delivery System
There are many insulin delivery devices available today, such as injectors, pens, syringes, and pills.Use of these delivery devices is restricted by a prescription from a medical doctor.
1.Syringe – These deliver insulin by injecting the drug with a needle.The main advantage of syringes is that it can be used on almost any kind of insulin.But the problem with a syringe is that it takes time to fill it and there is a higher chance for errors.
2.Pen – These use needles as well to deliver insulin but are easier to use compared with syringes.Their main advantage is that you can see how much insulin is left in the cartridge.However, pens are expensive and not all insulin formulas have pen forms.
3.Pump – These are like pagers worn on your belt or in a pocket.It supplies the body with insulin 24 hours a day through a needle attached to a flexible plastic tube.You can boost the insulin amount by pressing a button.The main advantage of this device is the steady release of insulin to manage glucose levels better.The downsides to using the device are that it is troublesome because you need to attach the pump all the time and the needle has to be changed every time to reduce the risk of infection.
4.Jet Injector – Jet injectors use very high pressure to push a fine spray of insulin through the skin pores.The main advantage of jet injectors is it does not require any needle to work.The drawbacks are the uneven amount of insulin received by the body and this may hurt more than needles.
5.Inhaler – Inhalers contain a rapid-acting insulin and must be used before meals.The main advantage of this device is that the drug peaks in the bloodstream in about 15 to 20 minutes, and clears the body in two to three hours.The main disadvantage of this device is it cannot be used by people who smoke or have chronic lung disorders.
The advancement of modern medicine led medical researchers to develop the islet transplant.Islets are clusters of cells found in the pancreas that produce insulin.In people suffering from type 1 diabetes, islet cells that cause the blood sugar to rise uncontrollably are destroyed.There are about one to two percent of the pancreas made up of islet cells.
Islet transplantation involves the transfer of cells from a donor's pancreas to another person.Once transferred to the recipient, islet cells begin to produce and release insulin to the new body.
Similar with other organ transplants, the islet transplant requires the use of immunosuppressants or anti-rejection drugs.These drugs keep the new body from rejecting the islet cells.Immunosuppressant drugs carry the serious risk of infection, however, and researchers today do not fully understand the long-term effects of these medications with islet transplant patients.
The islet transplant has several benefits to the patient, this only requiring minor surgery compared with the pancreas transplant, and it is a safer and inexpensive choice compared to organ transplants.Medical researchers are now looking into how to protect these insulin-producing cells from the immune system, and if they are successful, the procedure will become an effective method to treat type 1 diabetes for many sufferers, according to the American Diabetes Association.