Researchers in England have made a breakthrough that could negate the need for daily insulin shots for people with diabetes .
Dr Farid Kha, of Manchester-based Protein Technologies, has developed a technique to manufacture unnatural amino acids inexpensively and in commercial quantities, which may help researchers create new kinds of proteins – amino acids are the building blocks that make-up proteins – and improve existing ones such as insulin.
People with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes must inject insulin several times a day to help keep their blood glucose levels under control.
But Dr Khan believes unnatural amino acids could be used to modify insulin to make it more potent, longer lasting and easier to administer.
He explained: “You could have insulin that only needs to be taken once a month instead of once a day. It lasts longer because the body doesn’t recognise it and cannot break it down easily.
“It could also allow drugs to pass through barriers in the body more easily, so insulin would not have to be injected, it could be taken with an inhaler and absorbed through the lungs.”
Dr Khan said that the ability to produce unnatural amino acids cheaply represents a “key scientific breakthrough” that “breaks down barriers to developing new drugs and materials”.
He added that the next step is to team up with the big pharmaceutical companies “to prove the technology works before licensing it”, though he warned it could be a number of years before the industry becomes confident in the technology.

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