Washington: A new engineered insulin for diabetes patients hope to improve the treatment as insulin is critical to maintaining good health and normal blood-sugar levels.
The study conducted at Koch Institute showed that their modified insulin can circulate in the bloodstream for at least 10 hours, and that it responds rapidly to changes in blood-sugar levels. This could eliminate the need for patients to repeatedly monitor their blood sugar levels and inject insulin throughout the day.
Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering, and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, said that the real challenge was to get the right amount of insulin available when one needs it, because if one has too little insulin their blood sugar goes up, and if one have too much, it can go dangerously low.
The researchers team set out to create a new form of insulin that would not only circulate for a long time, but would be activated only when needed that is, when blood-sugar levels are too high. This would prevent patients' blood-sugar levels from becoming dangerously low, a condition known as hypoglycemia that can lead to shock and even death.
To create this glucose-responsive insulin, the researchers first added a hydrophobic molecule called an aliphatic domain, which is a long chain of fatty molecules dangling from the insulin molecule. This helps the insulin circulate in the bloodstream longer, although the researchers do not yet know exactly why that is. One theory is that the fatty tail may bind to albumin, a protein found in the bloodstream, sequestering the insulin and preventing it from latching onto sugar molecules.
Giving this type of insulin once a day instead of long-acting insulin could offer patients a better alternative that reduces their blood-sugar swings, which can cause health problems when they continue for years and decades, Anderson says.