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Diabetes Health Center

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Insulin Mouth Spray Works Fast, Study Shows

Insulin Product Sprayed Inside Cheek, Still Awaits Approval
WebMD Health News

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 Association.

"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 swallowed.

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 regular insulin.

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