Diabetes, a global public health crisis is growing significantly in epidemic proportions throughout the world. The unprecedented epidemic growth fueled by rapid industrialization, urbanization, increasingly sedentary lifestyle, nutrition transition, and socio-economic development is threatening the economies of all nations. Therefore prioritizing and reinforcing efficient diabetes care becomes indispensable.
Insulin, a remarkable discovery aiding diabetes management, is truly a savior of diabetics. But the problem lies in its administration. Injecting insulin 2-4 times a day is quite a ubiquitous part of the lives of diabetic patients. To avoid this tedious and burdensome way of insulin administration, scientists are vehemently working towards identifying oral administration methods.
In general, the human stomach will break down complex proteins into smaller particles. Insulin hormone is a protein molecule. For insulin to be therapeutic, it should not be broken down in the stomach. So this is the greatest challenge. Insulin should evade the stomach in its original form and reach the intestines where it should be absorbed completely. While scientists are now able to enable the movement of insulin from stomach to the intestines through various encapsulation technologies, aiding the absorption of insulin in the intestines is something very difficult to accomplish. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have proven the statement wrong. Yeah, they have come up with a novel technology to enable insulin absorption.
What’s the solution? It is strawberry technology insulin pill! There’s this compound called Pelargonidin in strawberries. Pelargonidin is a type of plant pigment that makes strawberries red. Luckily, this compound can dilate intestinal pores in a non-toxic way and allow them to shrink back to normal. This technology combines pelargonidin with an encapsulated insulin package thereby developing an insulin pill that can regulate blood sugar levels.
This research has proved that the insulin pill is highly efficient in mice. But for the pill to work effectively in human diabetic patients, a lot of improvements have to be made to address various challenges. One such challenge is to provide variable dosages suitable for patient needs. With an injection, dosage calculation becomes easier than with a pill. Hence, scientists are expanding this research to make this technology progress towards shaping the future of diabetes care. Once advanced, this technology will undeniably revolutionize the world of diabetes management.
“We took around 110 fruits and vegetables and screened them for an ability to open up the gaps between the cells of the intestine wide enough to allow the insulin to pass through”- Kathryn Whitehead(Chemical Engineering Associate professor, Carnegie Mellon University )