New Methods May Mean Fewer Insulin Shots for Diabetics
WebMD News Archive
Christopher Price tells WebMD that, unlike others who have tried to make
pills that protect insulin molecules from degradation by stomach acid, his
company, Protein Delivery Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., is taking a
different approach. By modifying the insulin's structure with substances that
protect it from degradation, then encapsulating the resulting gel-like
substance, researchers have been able to get insulin to the liver intact.
"This is important, not only because it mimics the pathway that insulin
takes in a normal person, but it is the one thing that's missing from any other
method of insulin delivery. They all go into the [bloodstream] first, and very
little insulin, in a very delayed fashion, actually gets to the liver,"
The pill is being tested at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington. Price
says a viable version is not expected before 2005. Like the spray products, it
is meant to be used before meals as a supplement to long-acting insulin.
Another promising advance involves an alternative to insulin itself.
Investigators at Merck Research Laboratory are working with a compound derived
from the leaf of an obscure fungus found in the Congo. In studies in animals,
the fungus was found to mimic the effects of insulin.
- Researchers are developing new ways to deliver insulin for diabetics who
require it every day. Such methods could reduce a patient's use of
- Scientists are studying insulin inhalation devices and pills, and
alternative, insulin-like medications.
- Patients seem to like the concept of fewer insulin injections, but
researchers need to determine whether these new products are safe and effective
to use over a lifetime.