Death of diabetic patient due to untimely insulin therapy compels researcher to find safer diabetes treatment

Death of diabetic patient due to untimely insulin therapy compels researcher to find safer diabetes treatment&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Diabetes is a common, but serious condition that affects millions of people around the world
  • Insulin therapy is used as a common treatment method for people with diabetes
  • Researchers have developed a self-controlled insulin molecule that can improve blood sugar management in diabetics

New Delhi: Diabetes has advanced to epidemic levels around the world. Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with new-onset of diabetes, while millions already suffer from the disease. Regulation of blood sugar in diabetics is extremely important, as persistently high blood sugar can lead to damage to vital organs such as kidneys and the heart. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for the breakdown of sugar. Absence of insulin production or resistance of body cells to the enzyme can cause diabetes.

Some patients of diabetes have to get insulin shots to keep their blood sugar under control. Other patients rely on treatments such as medicines and manage their diet to reduce the intake of sugar in any form. Insulin patches are also a common form of blood sugar management, where a periodic dose of insulin is given to the body to manage sugar levels. However, too much insulin can also lead to low blood sugar, causing fatigue and dizziness. 

Novel insulin molecule can sense blood sugar levels and self-adjust activity

A team of European scientists has developed a novel insulin molecule which can sense blood sugar levels, and adjust its activity according to the patient’s needs. The molecule has only been tested in animals so far, but researchers are positive that it will offer diabetics a safer and easier insulin therapy in the future. 

“The difficult thing with diabetes is that insulin always works the same way,” explains Knud Jensen, an author on the new research from the University of Copenhagen. “It lowers blood sugar, even though that might not be what a patient requires.”

He further said that the story of a type 1 diabetes patient passing away due to being given insulin at the wrong time compelled him to develop a safer way for insulin therapy. The patient was feeling unwell and thinking that it was due to high blood sugar, he was administered insulin. However, that dose of insulin eventually led to his death. 

“That is why we have developed the first step towards a kind of insulin that can self-adjust according to a patient’s blood sugar level,” says Jensen. “This has tremendous potential to vastly improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.”

“The molecule constantly releases a small amount of insulin, but varies according to need,” says Jensen. “It will give type 1 diabetes patients a safer and easier treatment.”

The study has also proven the efficacy of the insulin molecule in the animal model. It showed that the molecule is able to respond to blood sugar fluctuations in mice. 

However, the team of researchers does admit that it is a long road ahead before such a treatment hits the markets. Even their research is in the preliminary stages and is yet to prove efficacy and safety in human models. 

“We’ve tested the insulin molecule on rats and it has proven itself effective,” says Jensen. “The next step is to develop the molecule so that it works more rapidly and accurately. And finally, to test it in humans – a process that can take many years. But it is certainly worth pinning one’s hopes on.”

The new study was published in Chemistry, A European Journal.

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