Researchers have developed an oral medication to treat diabetes which, they have reported in a new study, controls insulin levels while simultaneously reversing the inflammatory effects of the disease. The study has been published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
It has been developed by Tarek Fahmy, associate professor of biomedical engineering, Yale University said in a press release. It cited two critical advantages of the drug over the standard treatment for diabetes. Because it can be taken orally, it’s much simpler for the patient to stay compliant with his or her treatment. It also addresses three major issues with diabetes at the same time: it helps control immediate blood glucose levels, restores pancreatic function, and re-establishes normal immunity in the pancreatic environment, the release said.
It’s all done within a nanocarrier composed of materials that our own bodies make — bile acids. This means that the carrier itself has therapeutic effects that works with the loaded agent to reinstate normal metabolism in the short-term, and restore immune competence in the longer term. “This combined approach is what makes this system a promising new therapy for autoimmune disease in general,” the release quoted Fahmy as saying.
One of the major obstacles to creating a successful oral medication for diabetes, Yale noted, is that the drug breaks down in the patient’s gastrointestinal system. The nanoparticle, however, protects the insulin while carrying it to the site of the pancreas, where it unloads the medication, the university said.
The nanoparticle is made from a polymerised ursodeoxycholic acid, a bile acid. In its more natural form as a monomer, it has been used to make drugs for dissolving gallstones and liver stones. It hasn’t, however, been very effective as a treatment for diabetes, the release said. Fahmy’s research team polymerised the bile acid, which increases its ability to bind with receptors critical to metabolism, making it much more effective as a treatment for diabetes, it said.
In their tests on mice, the nanoparticles reversed inflammation, restored metabolic functions, and extended their survival, while the cargo of the particles restored insulin levels, the study said.
Source: Yale University
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