End of daily injection for type one diabetes on horizon as scientists

first_imgThe team has already discovered molecules which binds to glucose from which they plan to build a shell which can contain insulin but melts away in the presence of sugar, releasing its payload.“We want to make the lives of patients better,” said Dr John Fossey, a senior lecturer in the school of chemistry at Birmingham, who is leading the project.“Imagine if patients could go through a week without having to worry about their blood sugar levels, or injecting themselves.”I’ve talked to the parents of kids with type one diabetes and they say, if only my children could do things, like go to sleepovers, their lives would be so much better. Most parents aren’t confident enough to entrust injections to other adults.“We’re trying to create a system which will deliver insulin in response to glucose levels, releasing more if blood sugar is high.“We can now recognise glucose in the body and my proposal is to take the same chemistry, take these molecules and build a container for insulin which will break open when it comes across glucose and deliver its cargo.“The a patient could be injected with these containers, say once a week, and they would slowly degrade in the presence of glucose to keep blood sugar at a constant level.” A world in which type one diabetics no longer need to inject themselves every day may be just a few years away, after British scientists launched an ambitious project to create a system which delivers insulin automatically.Currently people with type one diabetes must undergo prick tests several times a day to monitor their blood sugar, and inject themselves with insulin when it gets too high.The daily chore is time-consuming and invasive, and for children if often means they cannot attend parties, sleep-overs and camps where parents cannot monitor their condition.But now scientists at the University of Birmingham are developing smart capsules which would travel through the body and release insulin when they came across high levels of blood sugar. Finger prick tests would no longer be needed under the new system Credit:Alamy  Finger prick tests would no longer be needed under the new system center_img Around 400,000 people in Britain have type one diabetes of which nearly 30,000 are children.The Birmingham scientists say they are confident that the capsule will be ready for animal trials within five years, and humans soon after.“This could be a step change in the management of type one diabetes,” said Dr Fossey.“It will give people the freedom to live their lives without constantly worrying about monitoring their condition.”The new project is partly funded by the Juvenile Diabetes and Research Foundation (JDRF), the British charity which is working with scientists to find a cure for type one diabetes.Sarah Johnson, Director of Mission at JDRF: “We are pleased to be funding Dr Fossey’s work. This early stage of research could lay the foundations for a glucose responsive insulin that would be injected once a day, or even a week, and respond to glucose levels just like a healthy pancreas.“This would be a life changing treatment for all those living with type 1 diabetes.”Scientists across the globe are hunting for a solution to type one diabetes. In January US researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced they had successfully switched off the disease for several months in mice, which could equate to years if replicated in humans.Their treatment involves creating millions of insulin-producing cells in the lab and injecting them into the body. It could mean patients would simply need a transfusion of engineered cells every few years.The University of North Carolina has also developed a ‘smart patch’ which monitors glucose levels and delivers insulin automatically via hundreds of micro-needles.The high-tech device, which sticks to the skin like a plaster, can detect even slight increases in blood sugar levels meaning that tiny doses of insulin can be given when needed.Although it has only been tested on mice so far, developers say it could be a ‘game changer’ for humans. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

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