A glucose-responsive microneedle patch has been effective at reducing sugar levels in mice with type 2 diabetes.
The patch contains specially produced microneedles made from a substance taken from brown algae. The tiny microneedles are painless and make for an effective drug delivery system. The patch does not deliver insulin, instead it delivers a different drug that stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin.
The other key aspect of the microneedle patch is that it is glucose-responsive. This means that the drug treatment is only released when sugar levels are higher than they should be.
The research team from China and USA ran experiments as a proof of concept study to show that microneedle patch has potential.
The microneedles deliver two different drugs, exendin-4 and glucose oxidase. Delivery of the drugs is each regulated by a different mineral particle which responds to sugar levels. As sugar levels rise and fall, the acidity of the blood changes.
When blood sugar levels are high, this leads to chemical changes in the patch that allows exendin-4 to be released. Exendin-4 is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that stimulates the pancreas to release insulin and diminishes appetite. As exendin-4 can cause nausea, the patch is designed to only release a little exendin-4 when it’s needed.
The advantage of the patch is that the drug is released on an ‘only when needed’ basis. This can help to reduce side effects. Now that the research has shown that the concept works, the next stage will be to test the patch on larger animals before trying it out on humans.
The researchers state that the patch will need to be modified in terms of its size, shape and to ensure the needles work well on human skin, allowing for showering and sweating.
Healthy living: Diabetes.co.uk’s Low Carb Program has been developed to address the modern need for a lifestyle that helps lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Research shows that a low carb lifestyle can improve health across the board and helps people to reduce their need for medication.
The study has been published online of the Nature Communications journal.

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