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Inhaled Insulin May Help Treat Diabetes

Study Shows Inhaled Insulin May Be an Alternative to Injections for Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Search for New Ways to Manage Diabetes

This research was funded by MannKind Corp., a California-based biopharmaceutical company that manufactures Technosphere, the inhaler device used to deliver the insulin in this study. MannKind is using Technosphere to administer an inhaled insulin drug called Afreszza, which has not yet been approved by the FDA.

There is a great deal of interest among drug companies and patients in finding new ways to better manage diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 8% of the U.S. population has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. There are 1.6 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in people aged 20 and older every year.

In an accompanying editorial, British researchers Clifford J. Bailey, MD, from Aston University and Birmingham Children's Hospital, and Anthony H. Barnett, MD, from the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham, suggest that more research is needed to flesh out any possible safety issues with using inhaled insulin, particularly concerns over how inhaled insulin affects the alveoli -- tiny air sacs in the lungs.

They conclude: "The opportunity for convenient inhaled bolus insulin, to facilitate complex insulin delivery regimens, will be welcomed by some patients. For now, we say: proceed with caution."

Inhaled insulin was recently introduced to the U.S. market when Exubera, manufactured by the New York-based pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer, was approved by the FDA in 2006. However, Pfizer discontinued Exubera the following year due to poor sales.

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