Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the blood sugar levels are higher either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Some people need to take insulin injections to manage their blood sugar levels. But those who fear needles, taking injections can pose a huge barrier to compliance. This in turn can lead to mismanagement of treatment and complications that can lead to hospitalizations.
While oral medications do assist the body with insulin production, a pill that delivers insulin remains a highly sought goal of diabetes medicine. The main obstacle is getting the medication past the hostile proteolytic environment of the stomach and intestine without destroying the protein itself. But researchers have now developed an oral insulin pill that has the ability to survive the harmful attack of the stomach acids and delivers the payload to the small intestine. The pill opens up to release patches that adhere to the intestine wall, preventing access of photolytic enzymes to insulin and, with the aid of a permeation enhancer, depositing insulin that can pass through the blood.
The pill is in its preliminary stage of development. Like any other novel therapy it must undergo additional stages of testing and improvement before it can be considered as a viable treatment for diabetes. But if all goes according to plan then insulin pill will provide respite to millions of people who fear injections.