Insulin Mouth Spray Works Fast, Study Shows
Insulin Product Sprayed Inside Cheek, Still Awaits Approval
WebMD News Archive
June 16, 2005 -- An insulin mouth spray works faster and seems to be just as
effective as insulin injections, a new study shows.
The insulin mouth spray is a product called Oral-lyn from Generex
Biotechnology in Toronto. A small Generex-funded study in Israel indicates that
Oral-lyn might make life easier for some people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes
that need insulin.
The study shows that the insulin mouth spray works faster than insulin
injections, says Gerald Bernstein, MD, Generex vice president for medical
affairs. Bernstein is a past president of the American Diabetes
"The beauty of it is, it can be taken just before you eat and just after
you eat," Bernstein tells WebMD. "This is a very fast insulin. It is
regular insulin, which ordinarily is slow, but when sprayed into the mouth, it
gets into the bloodstream very quickly."
Oral Insulin Spray Mimics Normal Insulin
When a healthy person eats a meal, blood sugar levels go above normal. This
triggers the release of a hormone -- insulin -- which brings blood sugar levels
back down again. This crucial mechanism is missing in people with type 1
diabetes and doesn't work well in people with type 2 diabetes.
Self-administered insulin injections offer control over spiking blood sugar.
But it's tricky. The insulin injection has to be taken ahead of mealtime. And
because insulin levels don't go down as soon as blood sugar is under control, a
person may have to snack to avoid a blood-sugar crash.
And there's another issue. Many people, especially children with type 1
diabetes, dread having to take frequent insulin shots.
What's on the Horizon
That's why Generex -- and many other drug companies -- are working on
different ways to deliver insulin. Other companies are developing inhaled
insulin products, insulin skin patches, and even forms of insulin that can be
The Oral-lyn study, by Simona Cernea, MD, and colleagues at Hadassah Hebrew
University Hospital, in Jerusalem, looked at seven healthy volunteers. At
different times, the volunteers took various doses of Oral-lyn ranging from
five to 20 puffs or a placebo spray. They also received one injection of
The bottom line: Oral-lyn started working faster -- and quit working sooner
-- than injections of regular insulin. The more puffs of insulin people sprayed
into their mouths, the more insulin they had in their blood. The findings
appear in the June issue of Diabetes Care.
That's good news, says Robert Rizza, MD, the newly installed president of
the American Diabetes Association. Rizza is professor of medicine in the
division of endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition, and metabolism at the Mayo
Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.
"In order to control blood sugar, you have to have a match between how
quickly blood sugar goes up after you eat and how quickly insulin goes up,"
Rizza tells WebMD. "This paper shows a pretty good match. This gives yet
another, perhaps a more convenient way to get that needed profile."