Indian scientists having discovered a novel form of the hormone that can keep blood glucose levels down for upto three months.
A team of scientists of the National Immunology Institute of India, led by Mr Avdesh Surolia, has developed a fresh approach to insulin injection wherein 'Supramolecular Insulin Assembly-II (SIA-II)', a form of the hormone, is used for a sustained treatment of diabetes mellitus type-I.
The studies constitute the first work of its kind where a single administration of SIA-II to animal models of diabetes, such as rats, has been experimentally demonstrated to lower blood glucose levels to normal values for as many as for 120 days.
SIA-II, which is in the form of a prodrug, when injected releases just above basal levels of insulin into the blood in a sustained manner, Mr Surolia said.
A prodrug is a chemical that undergoes changes in the body into a more active material. This just above basal level of insulin is adequate to tackle the increase in blood glucose levels after meals and does not cause severe hypoglycaemia, a low sugar condition, in the morning, a dreadful condition faced by diabetics, he said.
According to Surolia, SIA-II upon injection forms a depot at the site, from where insulin monomers are released which act on the body's cells to regulate uptake of glucose for months after a single injection. This is in contrast to the existing treatment method in which the patient needs to inject insulin at least twice a day for maintaining glucose levels. And even then blood glucose still increases between the meals as the insulin injected gets degraded very soon. SIA-II is unique as it is continuously releasing insulin in the body regularly thereby affording a way to curb increases in glucose levels in between meals.
The technique is being seen as one with tremendous therapeutic potential and constitutes a new way of treatment for diabetic patients. Experiments carried out by the group in the laboratory have demonstrated that SIA-II acts as a pure and compact source of insulin and that the reason for its long-term bio-availability is its protection from destruction because of its presentation in a compact form.
The research may also give a direction for new therapeutic approaches for various diseases. The hormone insulin is the key regulator of energy and glucose metabolism in the body, besides playing a role in development during growing up years. The fine balance of maintaining the required insulin concentrations in the blood is performed by pancreas.
At present, diabetes afflicts nearly 200 million people across the world with a large chunk of patients being in India and China. The latest research is an attempt to address the issue of multiple injections.