12 February 2015
Scientists at the University of Utah have unveiled research into a new form of long-lasting ‘smart’ insulin, designed to respond automatically to changes in blood glucose. Known as ‘Ins-PBA-F’ the drug was created by modifying the molecular structure of standard insulin. When blood glucose levels are normal, it binds to proteins in the blood that block its activity. But when levels go up, it is ‘switched on’ by glucose, enabling it to bring levels back down.
Tests in mice with diabetes revealed that one injection of Ins-PBH-F worked for a minimum of 14 hours, during which time it helped to manage glucose levels after meals, just as effectively as in mice without diabetes. The researchers hope to begin the first tests of the drug in people with diabetes in around two to five years.
Dr Richard Elliott, from the Diabetes UK Research Team, said: “Scientists are pursuing a range of approaches to make insulin ‘smarter’ – so that it can respond automatically to changes in blood glucose and make it easier for people with diabetes to manage their condition. The ‘smart insulin’ tested in this exciting study was successful at improving glucose control in mice with insulin dependent diabetes, but years of further research and clinical trials will be needed to find out if a similar drug could be used safely and effectively by people with diabetes.”