Oral Insulin: Steps on the Yellow Brick Road

Cortecs International, an Anglo-Australian biotechnology group, recently announced a breakthrough in the search for an oral version of insulin. Cortecs has produced a capsule containing insulin that is able to get to the liver and reduce blood sugar levels. The capsule overcomes the long-standing problem of capsule destruction by the digestive system.

Cortecs’ president Michael Flynn warned that while the new discovery is promising and exciting, people shouldn’t think that the problem is completely solved.

“I don’t want the message to get out that you can throw your syringes away next week,” says Flynn.

As well as dispensing with painful daily injections for some diabetics, oral delivery of insulin could allow the liver’s protective mechanisms to control BGs naturally. This would avoid dramatic surges in insulin levels.

While Cortecs’ discovery offers hope, the capsules still have a way to go in experimental trials. It could be several years before a capsule version of insulin appears on the market. Experiments have focused on type 2 diabetics, but next year capsule trials are scheduled for type 1 subjects.

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