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Long-term glucose control through injectable solution
June 12, 2017, 11:14 am
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Biomedical engineers have created a technology that might provide weeks of glucose control for diabetes with a single injection, which would be a dramatic improvement over current therapies.

By creating a controlled-release mechanism for a drug and optimizing its circulation time in the body, this new biopolymer injection has the potential to replace daily or weekly insulin shots with once-a-month or twice-a-month treatments for type 2 diabetes.

Many current treatments for type 2 diabetes use a signaling molecule called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) to cause the pancreas to release insulin to control blood sugar. However, this peptide has a short half-life and is cleared from the body quickly.

Now researchers have created a technology that fuses GLP1 to a heat-sensitive elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) in a solution that can be injected into the skin through a standard needle. Once injected, the solution reacts with body heat to form a biodegradable gel-like ‘depot’ that slowly releases the drug as it dissolves. In animal experiments, the resulting therapy provided glucose control up to three times longer than treatments currently on the market.

Currently, the longest-acting glucose control treatment on the market, dulaglutide, requires a once-weekly injection, while standard insulin therapies often have to be injected twice or more every day.

The researchers also said that because the drug is synthesized inside E. coli bacterial cultures instead of mammalian cells, it is cheaper and faster to produce, making it a potential target for use in developing countries once it is commercialized.
 

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