Indian scientists have discovered a pill form of insulin treatment, so now diabetes patients would be spared from the pain of jabbing themselves with a needle every day.
The process to transform delivery of this therapy from a shot to a pill was a challenge because body’s digestive enzymes that are so good at breaking down food also break down insulin before it can get to work. Besides, insulin doesn’t get easily absorbed through the intestine into the bloodstream.
To overcome these hurdles, scientists combined two approaches to shield insulin from the digestive enzymes and then get it into the blood.
- They packaged insulin in tiny sacs made of lipids, or fats, called liposomes, which are already used in some treatments. Then, they wrapped the liposomes in layers of protective molecules called polyelectrolytes.
- To help these “layersomes” get absorbed into the bloodstream, they attached folic acid, a kind of vitamin B that has been shown to help transport liposomes across the intestinal wall into the blood.
- Diabetes suppresses the production or use of insulin, which is a hormone that helps blood glucose or blood sugar become absorbed into cells and gives them energy.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, and type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make or use insulin very well, causing glucose to remain in the blood, which can lead to serious problems.