Research led by Sydney University develop nanotech-based oral insulin medicine

The new nano carrier could help people with diabetes avoid side-effects linked to insulin injections such as hypoglycemia, inform the researchers

Research led by the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District has developed a system using nanotechnology that could allow people with diabetes to take oral insulin in the future. Offering   75 million people worldwide, who use insulin for diabetes, a more effective and needle-free alternative.

 According to the university’s statement, the new nano carrier, tested in mice, rats and baboon animal models, could help people with diabetes avoid side-effects linked to insulin injections such as hypoglycemia (a low blood sugar event, when too much insulin has been injected).

 These animal studies have shown that the greatest strength of the nano-scale material is that it can react to the body’s blood sugar levels. The coating dissolves and releases the insulin when there is a high concentration of blood sugar and importantly does not release the insulin in low blood sugar environments.

  The new oral insulin uses a type of nano-scale material that is 1/10,000th the width of a human hair. The material acts similarly to acid resistant coating on tablets, which protects it from being destroyed by stomach acid. But this new coating instead surrounds individual insulin molecules and becomes a ‘nano carrier’ – acting like a courier to ferry insulin molecules in the body to the places it needs to act.

 “A huge challenge that was facing oral insulin development is the low percentage of insulin that reaches the bloodstream when given orally or with injections of insulin,” says Dr Nicholas Hunt, lead author and a member of the University of Sydney Nano Institute and Charles Perkins Centre.

“To address this, we developed a nano carrier that drastically increases the absorbance of our nano insulin in the gut when tested in human intestinal tissue,” he adds.

 Preclinical testing in animal models found that, following ingestion, the nano insulin was able to control blood glucose levels without hypoglycaemia or weight gain. There was also no toxicity.

 Human trials are expected to start in 2025 led by the spin out company Endo Axiom, company founded by Professor Victoria Cogger, Professor David Le Couteur AO and Dr Nicholas Hunt.



Charles Perkins CentreDiabetesEndo AxiominsulinNano InstituteNanotechnologyoral insulinUniversity of Sydney
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