A step closer to the insulin pill

Scientists in the US have announced that they have developed a new method that allows insulin to be given orally, thus paving the way for future insulin pills to replace daily injections to control glucose in people with type 1 diabetes .

An insulin pill would improve the quality of life of about 40 million patients with type 1 diabetes worldwide, who are now forced to make one or two injections every day to get the insulin they need can not produce, or alternatively use automatic insulin pump. Oral administration of insulin has so far proved very difficult because it does not react well when it comes into contact with the acidic environment of the stomach while it is not absorbed well by the intestine.

Researchers at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, headed by biomechanics professor Samir Mitrackotry, who published the journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), found a way to transfer insulin into a fluid placed in a capsule of polymeric material, resistant to gastric acids.

The capsule dissolves and releases insulin once it reaches the small intestine where the environment is more alkaline and less acidic than the stomach. It is biocompatible, easily produced and can be stored at room temperature for up to two months without decomposing.

For the time being, the capsule has been successfully tested in experimental animals. There will be more animal testing to ensure the lack of toxicity and the effectiveness of the treatment. If everything goes well, people will be tested. In any case, it will take several years until an insulin pill is placed on the market.