Diabetes Health Staff
Italian researchers have developed a fourth method of delivering insulin to people with type 1 diabetes. An ingestible capsule, filled with insulin, moves along the digestive system until it “docks” with an implanted device that uses magnetism to draw the capsule to it. A built-in needle empties the pill of its insulin load. The capsule is then easily excreted during a regular bowel movement.
Currently there are three ways to supply insulin to people with diabetes: 1) injection via syringes; 2) dosing via an external insulin pump; and 3) dosing via an internal pump that is resupplied through an embedded port on the body.
Each method has its drawbacks. Syringes can cause redness and swelling at the points of injection, and users’ skins can become tough from too many injections at the same site.
External insulin pumps can also cause redness and swelling, and in extreme cases infections.
An internal pouch connected to the digestive system needs to be replenished through a port in the abdomen. Although ports have been used for a long time, there is still a danger of infection or swelling.
This fourth method, which has been tested extensively on pigs, is not quite ready to extend to trials involving humans. If it proves feasible, it will provide a long hoped for a successful workaround of a barrier to insulin treatment that has baffled many diabetes researchers and physicians over the years: How can you get an oral insulin past the fierce acids of the digestive system? Insulin has a relatively delicate molecular structure that can easily be torn apart in any direct encounter with the digestive system.
National Institutes of Health Research Report Insulin Pill.docx