Research Highlight

Slow-release insulin

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.95 Published online 21 July 2010

A new method that can morph insulin into a slow-release drug promises to provide relief to Type 1 diabetics. The slow-release mechanism means that patients will no longer need to inject insulin frequently.

The researchers say the morphed molecule functions as a reservoir for the sustained release of the hormone for a long time, and needs to be administered only once every four months.

Insulin has an inherent property to transform itself into small polymers or oligomers during certain biological processes. The researchers harnessed this oligomer, called supramolecular insulin assembly II (SIA-II), to generate a new form of insulin that can be controlled and sustainably released for long periods.

The researchers obtained insulin from two sources — recombinant human insulin and bovine — to generate the smart molecule. A single dose of this insulin oligomer given to experimental diabetic animals released insulin that could maintain body glucose levels for more than120 days. The novel SIA-II improved glycemic control and also reduced the extent of secondary diabetic complications.

Conventionally, Type 1 diabetics must take injections at least twice a day with a combination of insulin-like compounds, some of which have harmful side effects. The painful injections also result in very few patients sticking to the habit. SIA-II would help overcome these issues.


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