An insulin pill for people with diabetes could be in the offing, say researchers, providing hope that a daily regime of injections might one day become a thing of the past.
[Researcher Samir] Mitragotri and colleagues report how they took a new approach by dispersing insulin in a liquid made of two components: a nutrient called choline, and a substance called geranic acid that is used as a food flavouring agent and is found naturally in cardamom.
Among the experiments, the team put the mixture inside capsules made of a material that can withstand stomach acid, and injected them down the throat of six rats.
The animals’ blood sugar levels fell rapidly, on average reaching about 62% of initial levels in the first two hours, and 55% by 10 hours.
The team say further experiments suggested the liquid in which the insulin was dispersed inside the capsule prevents the hormone from being broken down by enzymes in the digestive system after the capsule dissolves, helps the insulin to pass through the mucus layer of the intestines.
However the insulin pill will not be available any time soon: the capsules have so far only been tested on a small number of non-diabetic animals, and it could be several years before clinical trials can begin.
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