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Injectable polymer could cut insulin injections to one per month

Date: 9.6.2017 

Hundreds of millions of people around the globe suffer from diabetes. Forced to constantly monitor their glucose levels and deliver insulin injections often twice a day, the hunt is on to find a controlled release mechanism that would result in a single monthly injection. 
Kredit: Duke University.

A team of biomedical engineers may have finally found the answer with a new biopolymer solution.

A common treatment for those with type 2 diabetes involves the use of a molecule called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1). This molecule causes the pancreas to release insulin, but it also has a short half-life and disappears from the body rather quickly. In developing a longer lasting treatment involving GLP1 researchers faced two problems – first, they needed to find a compound to bind GLP1 to make it last longer in the body, and second, they needed to develop a way to control the rate of the molecule's release.

A team at Duke University solved both problems by developing a heat-sensitive elastin-like polypeptide that can fuse with GLP1. Once injected into the skin the solution responds to body heat, forming a gel-like "depot." This reservoir of medication is then slowly released into the body as it dissolves.

Early animal tests show that a single injection can regulate glucose levels in mice for up to 10 days and rhesus monkeys for more than 14 days. The drug was also found to be administered at a constant rate through the duration of the trial. The team believes these results from the animal tests bode well for future translation into human subjects.



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