The development of oral insulin for diabetes sufferers has long been the holy grail for drug manufacturers . However, after years of research and setbacks, scientists have finally made a breakthrough and have reached the stage where such pills can be clinically tested.
Insuli, which is a peptide hormone, is taken by injection by people with diabetes to bring down their blood sugar levels to around normal. However, the injections are unpleasant and inconvenient, and patients are often reluctant to use the drug sufficiently frequently to properly control their blood sugar .
This makes an oral form of insulin of great value, both to patients and drug companies, as it would prove extremely popular. The problem has been that enzymes and stomach acids can easily destroy insulin and other protein-based drugs, and scientists have struggled to find an effective way round this.
In recent research they have developed special coatings for insulin pills that prevent stomach acid from destroying them, and are also using additives that make it easier for the intestine to absorb large molecules like insulin.
There are now several insulin pills at different stages of clinical trials, and it is hoped that proof of concept will allow them to move into late-stage and more rigorous clinical testing. There are many hoping these pills make it to the market.

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