Example of an
insulin injection

An insulin pump
Researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Children’s Hospital Boston have developed a new type of regulation for type 1 diabetes that could revolutionize the disease, as we know it.

Let me make sure you know it then:

There are two types of diabetes. Both have a similarity with an inability for the body to take up sugar in the blood (glucose). The difference between the different types lie within why the body is unable to process glucose. Type 1 has to do with the pancreas (insulin producing organ) losing its ability to produce insulin. Whether a person is diagnosed at age 1 or at age 20, there is a genetic predisposition for type 1 diabetes that is inherited and develops, eventually, over time. Type 2, however, is when a body becomes desensitized to insulin, because it is produced so much. Due to insulin being produced to counter the intake of glucose in the blood, when there is too much glucose being introduced, the cells develop a resistance to insulin and no longer take in the glucose to be broken down for energy.

Type 1 diabetics need insulin supplied to them because they don’t have any to signal glucose breakdown. Whether the insulin is supplied by injections or by an insulin pump, type 1 diabetics have to learn a routine in order to maintain their health. Even though modern technology has provided a way for type 1 diabetics to keep their glucose levels in check, there are still some health complications that can occur from improper and poorly scheduled insulin injections, whether through syringe or pump: limb amputation, blindness, kidney failure, seizures, unconsciousness, brain damage, and even death.

Researchers at universities across the United States have found a way to produce a “glucose-mediated release strategy for the self-regulated delivery of insulin using an injectable and acid-degradable polymeric network” or as I like to call it, “a scientific miracle”.

Schematic of the nano particle
web and how it administers insulin 
The production of this new insulin is fairly basic, when broken down. Nanoparticles are subjected to differently charged substances that will “stick together” when exposed to each other. This network of nanoparticles creates a figure similar to a web that allows blood to flow seamlessly through the cluster of particles, which makes way for the miraculous science behind it.

When the web of nanoparticles encounters high glucose levels in the body, the glucose oxidase (an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of glucose to gluconic acid) in the dextran (the substance that makes up most of the nanoparticles and encapsulates the insulin and glucose oxidase) of the particle starts to convert that glucose into gluconic acid. When this happens, the dextran starts to break down, releasing the insulin into the blood stream. Now that insulin has been released, it can complete its job by signaling the cells to transport glucose to where it gets broken down through cellular respiration.
These researchers have found that the web of nanoparticles can regulate blood sugar levels successfully for approximately ten days. Such duration of proper regulation is remarkable, especially when injections are being performed many times a day to do the same thing with diabetics currently.

The future is upon us and I cannot wait to see what this “smart insulin” holds for type 1 diabetics!

Once again, science, you rule.
Kayte Bataille