Smart Glucose Responsive Patch for Insulin Delivery to Replace Injections

Patients with both type I and type II diabetes keep a check on their blood sugar levels through regular finger pricks and often require regular insulin injections. Apart from being painful and repetitive, injecting the wrong dose of medication could lead to several complications. Researchers from the University of North Carolina and NC state have now developed a smart patch that could eliminate the need for painful injections and multiple finger pricks by automatically delivering insulin as necessary.

The paper, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), describes the development of the micro-array needle patch from non-toxic, biocompatible materials. The system mimics natural glucose regulators, pancreatic beta cells, which act as both factories and warehouses for making and storing insulin in small vesicles. Vesicles made by the team have sensor molecules that can detect the level of glucose and deliver insulin only when the levels are low, potentially eliminating the possibility of an overdose. When tested in a mouse model of type I diabetes against a regular injection of insulin, the patch produced superior results and regulated blood glucose levels within 30 minutes and maintained these levels for several hours. Since humans are more sensitive to insulin than mice, the researchers believe that the patch will actually work for longer in humans. Their eventual goal is to develop a smart insulin patch for diabetic patients that would be changed only once every few days.