American researchers have developed an insulin pill that could provide a less painful way for people with type 1 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.
This new technology is known as a Cholestosomen, which was reported on this week at the 252nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Mary McCourt, a researcher from Niagara University, explains that a Cholestosome is a “neutral, lipid-based particle that is capable of doing some very interesting things”.
McCourt said at the conference that a major problem with oral insulin delivery is to move the drug through the stomach while keeping it intact.
Insulin often degrades before it moves into the intestine, leaving it ineffective when it eventually reaches the bloodstream. But the Canadian team have been able to address this problem.
A Cholestosome encapsulates insulin using simple lipid esters, which are assembled into spheres. These then form neutral particles that are resistant to attack from stomach acids.
When the Cholestosome packages reach the intestines, they are recognised by the body as something that can be absorbed. Once they have passed through the intestines into the blood stream, the cells then break the packages apart, releasing insulin.
In laboratory studies, the Niagara team have been able to deliver multiple insulin molecules into cells, and trials with rats have shown that certain formulations of Cholestosomes have high effectiveness.
The researchers now plan to optimise their formulations in future clinical trials involving animals. The, their aim is developing new partnerships to help fund human trials.
There is currently an array of research into oral insulin pills, which is all positive news for people with type 1 diabetes, who normally have to inject insulin multiple times every day.
In May, Oramed Pharmaceuticals announced positive results from human trials investigating their ORMD-0801 drug, while Novo Nordisk put their own oral insulin into clinical trials earlier this year.

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