By Mili Jayadeep
There may be a new prospective treatment option that could change the lives of diabetics, owing to a technological breakthrough. Researchers at UNC school of Medicine and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a nifty insulin-patch, which is designed to administer insulin in accordance to changing blood glucose levels in the individual. The patch is stuck directly onto the skin of the patient and works by inserting microneedles to detect blood glucose levels followed by the delivery of a precise dosage of insulin. Once the glucose levels in the bloodstream reach normal levels, the patch detects this change and decreases accordingly. This may well prevent overdose by self-administration, which can otherwise have fatal consequences for the patient.
Diabetes is a health condition where there is an increased amount of glucose present in the bloodstream, which can be very dangerous and can lead to many complications. Glucose levels cannot be regulated in diabetics due to a malfunction in the production or use of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose into cells in healthy individuals. There are two types of diabetes with type I occurring due to the body’s inability to make insulin and type II due to the cells response to insulin being inadequate.
Currently, diabetics either use medications or self-administered insulin injections following consistent testing of blood glucose levels. This can often be a hassle for patients as they have to consistently monitor their blood glucose levels by pricking the skin with a needle. Therefore, an advantage of the patch is avoidance of this painful step. The patch offers a much easier and handier solution to managing glucose levels. The patch has to be designed to successfully insert insulin hormone into the bloodstream of the diabetic patient.
So far, the patch has only successfully passed the stage of animal testing using diabetic mice and pigs. The next steps in research involve human testing in clinical trials. As quoted by the co-author of this research study, “This smart insulin patch, if proven safe and effective in human trials, would revolutionize the patient experience of diabetes care”. If the product shows positive outcomes during clinical trials, the patch could become available on the market and improve the lives of diabetic patients worldwide.