When type 2 diabetes reaches an advanced stage, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. At this point, doctors will recommend daily insulin injections to manage blood sugar levels.
However, research shows that patients have a phobia of needles. This fear is one of the most significant barriers preventing type 2 diabetes patients from taking insulin.
A research team led by Dr. Robert Langer, a professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT, believe that a pill will erase this fear and make treatment less painful and more consistent.
The new pill’s design consists of a biodegradable capsule containing an insulin micro-needle. Upon swallowing the pill, the insulin travels directly into the stomach wall. And, since the stomach lining lacks pain receptors, taking it is as easy as taking an aspirin.
As the stomach lining does not have any pain receptors, researchers believe this delivery mode will be pain free.
The micro-needle has two components: a tip comprising compressed insulin, which penetrates the stomach wall, and a biodegradable shaft, which holds the tip in place.
Inside the capsule, the needle attaches to a compressed spring and a disc. The disc contains sugar. The sugar disc dissolves when the capsule enters the stomach. In turn, this releases the spring and allows the micro-needle to inject into the stomach wall.
After its injection into the stomach wall, the microneedle tip dissolves, and insulin enters the bloodstream. This takes approximately one hour. In the current study, this took roughly an hour. Following the insulin release, the capsule passes through the digestive system without any side effects.
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