Written by : Jayati Dubey
August 22, 2023
The insulin-delivery platform holds the promise to significantly lighten the load for the approximately three million Indians who depend on insulin therapy.
The study, spearheaded by Dr. Suchetan Pal, Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry, IIT Bhilai, carries the promise of revolutionising insulin therapy for individuals with diabetes.
The conventional methods of insulin administration have long been beset by limitations, failing to replicate the intricacies of the body's innate insulin secretion mechanism. These methods not only fall short of mimicking the body's natural response but can also precipitate critical hypoglycemic episodes.
This research confronts these issues head-on by harnessing hydrogels '“ biocompatible polymers boasting high water content '“ to encapsulate and release insulin in a controlled manner.
The research team ingeniously designed these hydrogels to mirror the behaviour of healthy pancreatic cells, releasing insulin in response to heightened blood glucose levels.
This emulation of the body's natural insulin secretion was achieved through the combination of polyvinyl alcohol and chitosan '“ derived from shellfish and crabs' outer skeletons '“ alongside the glucose-responsive crosslinker formylphenylboronic acid (FPBA). The resulting hydrogels, when administered, release the encapsulated insulin proportionally to glucose levels.
In rigorous experimentation involving both small-molecule drug analogs and macromolecular insulin, the team validated that these hydrogels predominantly release insulin during episodes of hyperglycemia, ensuring optimal blood sugar control.
Crucially, the safety and efficacy of these insulin-loaded hydrogels were affirmed through tests conducted on a type I rat model, marking a significant stride toward their potential clinical application.
Dr. Suchetan Pal underscored the versatility of these hydrogels, envisioning their diverse forms '“ microneedles or oral formulations '“ enabling sustained insulin delivery responsive to elevated glucose levels. This innovation holds the potential to substantially enhance convenience and safety for individuals reliant on insulin therapy.
The implications of this study hold significance for India, often termed the global epicentre of diabetes. Disturbingly, recent data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), featured in The Lancet, reveals that approximately 101 million Indians grapple with diabetes. This chronic condition, stemming from inadequate insulin production in the pancreas, poses grave health risks due to elevated blood sugar levels.
Currently, insulin remains a pivotal therapy for countless type 1 diabetes patients. Presently, people living with diabetes resort to daily insulin injections, a process that requires needles or specialised devices to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. The potential of this insulin-delivery platform could substantially alleviate the burden on the estimated three million Indians reliant on insulin therapy.
The research findings, co-authored by Akbar Ali, Saroj, Sunita Saha, Sanjay Kumar Gupta, Dr. Tatini Rakshit, and Dr. Suchetan Pal, have been published in the esteemed American Chemical Society Journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.