Image Credit: ACS Publications at acs.org

US Researchers have come up with a successful way to introduce a nano-particle network into the blood of a diabetes patient that would be able to deliver insulin as needed for up to ten days.

The process, successful in animal trials, hopes to move to human clinical trials, where if it produces similar results could address two pressing problems with insulin delivery.  Patients would not have to inject themselves multiple times a day and, there would be no risk of improper dosing.

From gizmag.com

The injectable nano-network is made up of a mixture that contains nanoparticles with a solid core or insulin, modified dextran (which is commonly used to reduce blood viscosity), and glucose oxidase enzymes. When exposed to high levels of glucose, the enzymes convert glucose into gluconic acid, which breaks down the modified dextran to release the insulin. The gluconic acid and dextran, which are biocompatible, dissolve in the body, while the insulin brings the glucose levels under control.

The nanoparticles are given a positively or negatively charged biocompatible coating so that when they are mixed together, they are attracted to each other to form a “nano-network.” The positively charged coatings are made of chitosan, a material found in shrimp shells that has also found applications in self-healing car paint, while the negatively charged coatings are made of alginate, a material normally found in seaweed.

“This technology effectively creates a ‘closed-loop’ system that mimics the activity of the pancreas in a healthy person, releasing insulin in response to glucose level changes,” says Dr. Zhen Gu, an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This has the potential to improve the health and quality of life of diabetes patients.”

If that isn’t technical enough you can read the research paper here.

If the process works as well in humans this will be an impressive development toward normalizing the lives of people who have diabetes by simplifying insulin delivery.