Managing the blood glucose levels has been a task for people suffering from diabetes. Many new devices and techniques are been developed that is helping these patients to manage their glucose levels with some ease. Recently, a research team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina State University is developing a basic artificial pancreas that can release insulin in response to instantaneous variations in blood glucose levels.
The insulin was modified by the team chemically attaching it to glucosamine, which is a derivative of glucose. It could then attach to glucose transporters present of the red blood cell surface, efficiently binding the insulin to the blood cell. Ultimately, they get a red blood cell covered with insulin molecules. The basic thought is that a diabetic patient can be then injected with the blood cells carrying insulin. This study was carried out on mice with type I diabetes.
After entering the bloodstream, the insulin-loaded blood cells interact with their surroundings. If there are high glucose levels, the glucose, molecules efficiently replace the glucosamine in the glucose transporters of the blood cells. Thus, the insulin is set free when the glucosamine is released from the blood cell. This allows the insulin to attach to the insulin receptors in muscles, fatty tissues, and liver, stimulating a pathway that decreases the levels of glucose in the blood.
In this study, the team evaluated mice obtaining the blood cell and modified insulin system against other 3 groups, namely, a group that received only modified insulin; a group that got the saline solution; and a group that received a combination of red blood cells & unmodified insulin. The experiment demonstrated that the type I diabetic mice that got the blood cell and modified insulin system were able to considerably decrease the levels of blood glucose for more than 2 days.
Apart from this, each of the drug combinations was examined by the team in a group of healthy mice. It was found that the blood cell and modified insulin system decreased the hypoglycemia risk in comparison to the other drug combinations. Now the researchers are intending to validate a microneedle injection system for release the system and hopefully soon assess its efficiency in human subjects.