Treatment of Diabetes may get Revolutionized

Treatment of Diabetes may get Revolutionized

Diabetics might get their hands on a painless method for keeping their blood-sugar level in control.

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease where high levels of glucose are found in the blood of the patient. Lack of Insulin secretion or its inability to perform the designated duty is responsible for this state. There are two types of diabetes called Type-1 (Juvenile Onset) and Type-2 (Adult Onset). Juvenile Onset is referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes because the body is unable to produce the necessary hormone. The treatment which is used worldwide to treat patients suffering from this type of diabetes involves injecting insulin into the body. The frequency of these injections is dependent on the severity of the disease as you will have to suffer a needle prick once or twice every day. Scientists have been working very hard for finding a less-painful way of treating it and a recent study suggests that they might have made a breakthrough.

The researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) came up with a revolutionary oral method which will eliminate the use of injections for keeping the blood-sugar level of the diabetics in control. Given the fact that diabetes leads to a number of other dreadful diseases, this is a massive blessing for those who fail to give themselves required injections. Samir Mitragotri, a Professor at SEAS who is one of the Senior Authors of the study, mentioned that by saying,

But many people fail to adhere to that regimen due to pain, phobia of needles, and the interference with normal activities. The consequences of the resulting poor glycemic control can lead to serious health complications.”

The biggest hurdle in delivering insulin orally has been the acidic environment of our stomach. In case you don’t know, insulin is a protein and it cannot stand the strength of the acid found inside our digestive organ. As a result, most of it is destroyed before reaching the intestines so absorption is never an option. In order to overcome this limitation, researchers have created an ionic liquid, for carrying insulin, by mixing Choline and Geranic acid. This solution is then put inside a capsule which has an acid-resistant coating. It is easy to manufacture and can be stored at room temperature for two months without worrying about its degradation. Mitragotri praised this easy to produce a formula in the following words:

Once ingested, insulin must navigate a challenging obstacle course before it can be effectively absorbed into the bloodstream. Our approach is like a Swiss Army knife, where one pill has tools for addressing each of the obstacles that are encountered.”

When insulin avoids digestion in the stomach, it reaches intestine in an absorbable form. However, it gives birth to another obstacle. The polymer coating needs to be removed from the capsule so that insulin could be freed from the carrier. This is managed without much of a hassle as the polymer is quite reactive to Alkalis and it breaks down rapidly as it gets an alkaline environment in the intestine. As a result, the ionic liquid containing insulin is released into the small intestine. Some of the enzymes present there are assigned the duties to break down proteins into amino acids but they don’t work on the insulin because of its protective solution. Amrita Banerjee, an Assistant Professor at the North Dakota State University who is also the first author of the study, described that to the world as she said,

When a protein molecule such as insulin enters the intestine, there are many enzymes whose function is to degrade the proteins into smaller amino acids. But the ionic liquid-borne insulin remains stable.”

The acidic formation used in this experiment showed that it can penetrate the last two barriers (the layer of mucus found inside intestine and the tightly-bound cells of the intestine walls). This finding proved to be the last nail in the coffin as a lot of previous efforts failed after reaching this far. This discovery is getting a lot of praise from all sides for a number of reasons. First of all, it resembles the way a healthy Pancreas supplies insulin to the body. It will also put an end to the harmful effects of taking continuous injections for longer periods of time. The fact that Banerjee proposed a cheaper way of producing this ionic liquid-borne insulin makes it an industrially viable product as well. Last but not the least, if everything goes according to plan, this method can be used to deliver other proteins to the body.

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