Developing an Insulin Pill

Insulin, a staple of diabetes treatment for Type 1 and, occasionally, Type 2 diabetes, is available only as an injectable. This is administered either through daily injections with a needle or by use of an insulin pump. Unfortunately, both methods are inconvenient and often painful, making patient compliance an ongoing concern.

If there were only an insulin pill, life would be so much easier for the hundreds of millions of diabetics worldwide. Unfortunately, insulin is not able to withstand the digestive acids in the stomach and small intestine although researchers have tried for years to develop an insulin pill, all attempts have failed. Until today.

An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) announced the development of the elusive coating that will allow inulin to endure the effects of digestion.

Actually, it’s not one coating, it’s two. The outer coating is “enteric,” meaning that it can survive the stomach’s acidic environment. This coating is dissolved only once it reaches the small intestine. This type of coating has already existed for years. The remaining problem was that the small intestine contains enzymes that break down proteins. And insulin is a protein.

The challenge has been to enable insulin to withstand these enzymes as well, and make it safely into the bloodstream. In the new pill, beneath the enteric shell is an ionic liquid that contains enzymes which counteract the small intestine’s enzymes. This allows the insulin to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The other good news is that the new pill is easily manufactured, and is expected to be cheaper than injectable insulin. It also does not need refrigeration, as insulin is. Animal trials are in process to ensure that the pill works as expected. If so, human clinical trials will follow, and diabetics (and their doctors) will have cause to celebrate.

At Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, we find cause for celebration every day. We are a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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