Insulin is a staple of diabetes treatment, both for Type 1 and, occasionally, Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetics who require insulin need to deliver it directly into their bloodstream. This is either done through daily injections with the needle or by use of an insulin pump. However, both methods are inconvenient and often painful, making patient compliance an ongoing concern.
How much easier life would be for diabetics if there were only an insulin pill. Unfortunately, insulin is not able to withstand the chemical actions of the stomach and small intestine, and years of trying to develop a coated insulin pill have proved fruitless. Until now.
An article recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) announces the development of that elusive coating.
Actually, it’s two coatings. The outer coating is “enteric,” meaning that it is able to survive the stomach’s acidic environment, and is only dissolved by digestive enzymes in the small intestine. This type of coating already exists. The current problem with an insulin pill is that the small intestine contains enzymes that break down proteins — and insulin is a protein. The challenge has been to enable insulin to withstand these enzymes, and make it safely into the bloodstream. In the new pill, underneath the enteric shell, the insulin is protected by an ionic liquid that contains enzymes which counteract the small intestine’s enzymes, and allow the insulin to be absorbed — unharmed — into the bloodstream.
The new pill is easily manufactured, and is expected to be cheaper than injectable insulin. And it doesn’t even have to be refrigerated, as insulin is. Animal trials are in process to ensure that the pill works as expected. If so, human trials will follow, and diabetics may have new cause for celebration.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we find cause for celebration every day. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility. And we do it in an upbeat atmosphere that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so our residents are able to truly relish and appreciate life.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.