Now, a new form of insulin that can be inhaled

Washington: Good news for diabetics! The
painful shots may soon be a passe; thanks to scientists who`ve
developed what they claim is a new form of insulin which could
be orally inhaled for absorption via the lung.

The new drug, Afrezza, which is awaiting approval from
the US Food and Drug Administration, works faster, keeps blood
sugar levels at a closer to normal level, and has less risk of
causing low sugar levels than the currently available insulin
jabs, say the scientists.

"Afrezza uses a novel technology called Technosphere.

It`s inhaled as a dry powder that dissolves in the lungs. The
particles then pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and
begin acting almost immediately. Afrezza`s action peaks about
12 to 15 minutes after inhalation.

"Most importantly, the drug is absorbed ultra-rapidly
so it becomes effective much more quickly than an injection of
the same drug.

"For some drugs, ultra-rapid systemic delivery
provides distinct clinical advantages over injection including
profiles that match the body`s natural responses in processes
like hormone secretion," Andrea Leone-Bay, who led a team at
MannKind Corporation, the drug`s manufacturer, said.

In 2006, the first inhaled insulin, Exubera, received
FDA approval. However, the drug was pulled from the market in
October 2007 by its manufacturer, Pfizer, because of concerns.

One study found a reduction in lung function for some, but of
more concern was an increased risk of lung cancer.

Leone-Bay said that cancer studies have been conducted
on Afrezza in rats. "The rodents got a much higher inhalation
dose than humans would take, and the researchers didn`t find
an increase in lung cancer. These types of studies weren`t
done on Exubera," she said.

However, experts welcomed Afrezza with caution.

"They have done the required safety studies and come
out clean, but it`s only been tested for six months, so long-
term isn`t known," said Sanjoy Dutta, Director of the insulin
initiative at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Dutta confirmed that Afrezza is fast-acting and less
likely to cause low blood sugar. "Just as quickly as it has an
onset of action, it also has a quick off mechanism. It doesn`t
stay around long enough to cause hypoglycemia," he was quoted
by the media as saying.

The findings were presented recently at the American
Chemical Society National Meeting held in California.