Sydney: Researchers have found a substitute for insulin to help treat diabetes orally, replacing painful pricks.
Over 10 years, Erik Helmerhorst, professor at Curtin University, and colleagues looked at three million compounds on pharmaceutical databases to try to emulate the molecular map of insulin. They found one, and are developing it to "take the needle out of diabetes".
"Our innovation is the development of a new chemical entity, a small drug molecule we have discovered and developed, that can be taken orally as a tablet to replace insulin per se," said Helmerhorst.
The research has the ability to revolutionise the treatment of diabetes, which is a growing problem worldwide. Helmerhorst said there was a niche market for their drug molecule to target Type 2 diabetics to help delay the onset of insulin dependency, according to a Curtin statement.
He said 95 percent of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes; they last year spent some $10 billion on insulin. "The reality is that nearly one-third of Type 2 diabetics will end up needing insulin therapy at some stage," he said.
According to the scientist, the insulin substitute would appeal to people who were averse to taking insulin via injections or by pumps. Helmerhorst outlined his team`s quest at the Univation 2011 conference in Perth Nov 2-3.