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Smart insulin could offer better diabetes control

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For patients with diabetes, life becomes very hard for maintaining their health and normal blood-sugar levels. This new compound, known as Ins-PBA-Fform of ‘smart’ insulin remains in the blood stream for 24
hours and automatically maintains blood sugar levels. Which means no more
finger pricks or insulin pens.

Its always difficult for diabetes patients to determine exactly how much insulin
they require to prevent their blood sugar from swinging too high or too
low. So, US Researchers have developed a new type of insulin that needs to be injected once a day into the blood-stream,  then is automatically
activated only when a person’s blood sugar levels are high enough. This
means a type 1 diabetes patient doesn’t need to worry about keep tabs on
their condition throughout the day.
This new compound has so far shown very positive outcomes in diabetic mice. The team
was able to ensure that it remained in the blood stream for 24 hours by
adding a molecule known as an aliphatic domain, which is made up of a
long chain of fatty acids that dangle from the insulin molecule. This
chain, the researchers think, links to a blood protein called albumin,
which allows the insulin to be stored safely, without the risk of it
accidentally linking to other sugar molecules in the blood.  
And there it sits, until blood sugar levels hit a critical threshold,
which causes it to be released so it can lower the amount of glucose
back to safe levels. The team also added a chemical called PBA
(Phenylboronic Acid) to their new insulin, which can not only attach to
glucose molecules, but also detach again once the job is done.
The researchers publish their work in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science and report that when treated with this new insulin compound
once a day, the diabetic mice were able to maintain glucose levels as
stable as their healthy, non-diabetic peers, without having to do
anything. 
“The real challenge is getting
the right amount of insulin available when you need it, because if you
have too little insulin your blood sugar goes up, and if you have too
much, it can go dangerously low,” one of the team, Daniel Anderson from
MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

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If
this treatment makes it to the market, it will relieve the constant
stress of maintaining blood sugar levels, and the risks of something
going wrong if a diabetic gets their insulin does wrong. According to Hannah Devlin at The Guardian,
10 percent of deaths in type 1 diabetics are caused by taking too much
insulin, which causes blood sugar levels too dip so slow, it can lead to
hypoglycaemia. 
And on the other hand, if a person isn’t giving
themselves enough insulin, their blood sugar levels will remain too
high, which could lead to blindness and nerve damage.
“In theory, with this there would be none of these glucose problems,” Chou told The Guardian.
The next step is to get the insulin ready for human trials, which the team expect will take between two and five years.

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