New Device Could Improve Insulin-Injecting Technology For Diabetic Patients | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 26 | p. 22 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 29, 2015

New Device Could Improve Insulin-Injecting Technology For Diabetic Patients

Biotechnology: Microneedles Dispense Oxygen-Sensitive Vesicles To Regulate Blood Sugar
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: diabetes, microneedle, insulin, vesicle
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Researchers fluorescently tagged insulin to highlight the needlework on their smart insulin patch.
Credit: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
Microneedle array for delivering insulin.
 
Researchers fluorescently tagged insulin to highlight the needlework on their smart insulin patch.
Credit: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA

Researchers led by Zhen Gu at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University have created dermal patches that could improve devices designed to regulate blood sugar in diabetic patients. The group’s patches use microneedles filled with vesicles that respond to blood oxygenation to deliver insulin as needed (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1505405112). These vesicles are like nanoscopic bubbles, with hydrophilic hyaluronic acid on their outer surfaces and hydrophobic 2-nitroimidazole interiors. The nitroimidazole becomes hydrophilic in low-oxygen conditions, thereby enabling the vesicles to release their payload. Those conditions are present in the blood of diabetic patients when glucose concentrations are too high. The patch’s needles expose vesicles to a patient’s microscopic capillaries, where the vesicles can dissociate and deliver insulin as local conditions become oxygen poor. Using mice with type 1 diabetes, the team showed that their new devices work faster than existing glucose-regulating technologies that respond to pH changes. The team is moving toward trials in minipigs and, ultimately, commercialization, Gu says. “We really want to help people with diabetes.”

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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