Blood glucose management is a major part of living with diabetes, a process that involves finger pricking and insulin injections for some. Now a new revolutionary approach that utilizes sugar-sensitive nanoparticles to release glucose may change all that.
Researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Children’s Hospital Boston successfully tested the new particles in diabetic mice and showed that the animals maintained healthy sugar levels for up to ten days. More research is certainly necessary to confirm the technology, but the promise of an injection that mimics the functionality of the pancreas can’t be overstated.
From North Carolina State:
The new, injectable nano-network is composed of a mixture containing nanoparticles with a solid core of insulin, modified dextran and glucose oxidase enzymes. When the enzymes are exposed to high glucose levels they effectively convert glucose into gluconic acid, which breaks down the modified dextran and releases the insulin. The insulin then brings the glucose levels under control. The gluconic acid and dextran are fully biocompatible and dissolve in the body.
Each of these nanoparticle cores is given either a positively charged or negatively charged biocompatible coating. The positively charged coatings are made of chitosan (a material normally found in shrimp shells), while the negatively charged coatings are made of alginate (a material normally found in seaweed).
When the solution of coated nanoparticles is mixed together, the positively and negatively charged coatings are attracted to each other to form a “nano-network.” Once injected into the subcutaneous layer of the skin, the nano-network holds the nanoparticles together and prevents them from dispersing throughout the body. Both the nano-network and the coatings are porous, allowing blood – and blood sugar – to reach the nanoparticle cores.
Study in ACS Nano: Injectable Nano-Network for Glucose-Mediated Insulin Delivery…
NC State: Injectable Nano-Network Controls Blood Sugar in Diabetics for Days at a Time…