A revolutionary insulin patch invented by researchers from the University of North Carolina and NC State can possibly make painful insulin injections a thing of the past.
Dubbed as the smart patch, it is a thin square with more than 100 tiny painless needles made from biocompatible materials. The painless needles are filled with insulin glucose-sensing enzymes in microscopic storage units. When blood-sugar levels increase, these enzymes are released.
The smart patch imitates beta cells which play an important role in monitoring levels of blood sugar and sending signals to release insulin into the bloodstream. They constructed artificial vesicles to perform the functions of beta cells.
What’s even more interesting is that the patch is smart enough that it can be personalized depending on the user’s diabetic weight and sensitivity to insulin.
Senior co-author Zhen Gu explained: “The whole system can be personalized to account for a diabetic’s weight and sensitivity to insulin, so we could make the smart patch even smarter.”
The researchers tested the patch on mice and found that it lowered blood glucose for up to 9 hours. Since mice are less sensitive to insulin compared to humans, the researchers think it that can have a longer-lasting effect on humans suffering from diabetes.
A life-long disease, diabetes affects 387 million worldwide. People suffering from diabetes had to endure regular finger pricks to monitor their blood sugar level and repeated shots of insulin. Patients could suffer from severe complications if the wrong dosage of medication is injected.
“The hard part of diabetes care is not the insulin shots, or the blood sugar checks, or the diet but the fact that you have to do them all several times a day every day for the rest of your life,.If we can get these patches to work in people, it will be a game changer,” said John Buse, the study’s co-author.