How to (Possibly) Make Oral Insulin Possible

People with Type 1 diabetes, by necessity, become accustomed to an endless amount of needles and bloodletting. Most would drop everything, however, to switch to pills instead of shots, if given the choice.

New research seems to suggest that tiny particles which could pass easily into the body might help drugmakers replace injectable drugs with orally administered alternatives in the near future. A team at the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy has worked to create nanosystem technology which could, in theory, carry drugs into the body more effectively than with traditional drug deliveries.

The goal of the research is to have nanosystem particles interact with cells in a non-competitive way. Currently the binding molecules of drugs must compete with the body’s own binding molecules for docking space on cells; these nanosystem particles are small enough that they wouldn’t need to compete for the same real estate. If nanosystem particles could be developed, the drugs carried by the particles could stay in circulation for longer than with current drug therapies. The researchers believe nanosystem particles could also be fine-tuned to target certain sections of the body and be scheduled to release at optimum times; they believe this would be particularly useful for insulin delivery.

This is not the first attempt at doing away with injectable medicine, and so far it appears this nanosystem research is only being examined in laboratory settings. Still, it is encouraging to hear that researchers are beginning to understand how to shrink drug molecules in ways that might make injections a medical relic of the past.

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Courtney Major currently attends Emerson College where she majors in Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a minor in Marketing Communications.

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