Pain-free method to administer insulin

2014-07-04 00:00

A PAIN-FREE method for diabetic patients to self-administer doses of insulin could be in sight thanks to a team of scientists from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2010, UKZN’s Professor Cephas Musabayane and Mark Tufts reported the discovery of a new method to administer insulin into the bloodstream via a skin patch.

Hailed as an innovative finding, Musabayane and his team have now built on the previous study and have reported the development of insulin-containing dermal patches capable of sustained, controlled delivery of insulin into the bloodstream. “We believe that our findings are significant and pave the way for diabetic patients to control their insulin levels in a pain-free manner with reduced negative side-effects,” said Musabayane.

The possible advent of the skin patch was welcomed by Razana Allie, a diabetes nurse educator with Diabetes South Africa. “Not all patients like injecting themselves and at the ­moment that is the only way to ­administer insulin intravenously.”

Allie said it would also help with compliance. “People either don’t do their injections, or they inject incorrectly. They also inject at the wrong time or with incorrect dosages.”

The study, conducted by scientists in UKZN’s Discipline of Human Physiology with Musabayane as principle investigator, was designed to establish whether application of pectin insulin-containing dermal patches sustained controlled release of insulin into the blood stream of diabetic rats as well as alleviating some diabetic symptoms.

The scientists found that after five weeks of daily treatment with the insulin-containing dermal patches, neither inflammation nor necrosis was detected in the skin of the rats and that the patch had the potential to deliver insulin across the skin and into the blood stream.

“The findings are of considerable importance because application of insulin-containing dermal patches would free diabetic patients from daily bolus injections needed to maintain a constant insulin concentration,” said Musabayane

Musabayane added that it is envisaged that the required preliminary laboratory and animal work will take two years to complete before human clinical trials can commence.

Human clinical trials will be done in conjunction with a pharmaceutical company who will eventually manufacture and market the product under licence.

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