UBC team developing oral insulin pill sees breakthrough | Tech Reddy


Science, Health and Technology

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia working on developing oral insulin pills to replace daily insulin injections have made a game-changing discovery.

The researchers found that the latest version of their oral pill insulin was absorbed by rats in the same way as injectable insulin.

“These exciting results show that we are on the right track in developing an insulin formulation that does not require an injection before each meal, improving the quality of life and mental health of the more than nine million type 1 diabetics around the world. world.” says Professor Dr. Anubhav Pratap-Singh (he/she), Principal Investigator from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

He attributes the inspiration for his search for non-injectable insulin to his diabetic father, who has been injecting insulin 3-4 times a day for the past 15 years.

According to Dr. Alberto Baldelli (he/she), a senior scientist in Dr. Pratap-Singh’s lab, are now seeing that almost 100 percent of the insulin in their tablets is going directly to the liver. In previous attempts to develop oral insulin, most of the insulin accumulated in the stomach.

“Even two hours after birth, we did not find any insulin in the stomachs of the rats we examined. It all happened in the liver, and it’s an ideal target for insulin—that’s what we really want to see,” says Yigong Guo (he/she), the first author of the study and a PhD candidate who worked closely on the project.

Change delivery mode

When it comes to insulin delivery, injections are not the most convenient or convenient for diabetics. But with several other oral insulin alternatives also being tested and developed, the UBC team worked to figure out where and how to alleviate the high absorption rate.

Dr. Pratap-Singh’s team has developed a different type of tablet that is not meant to be swallowed, but dissolves when placed between the gum and the cheek.

This technique uses a thin membrane inside the inner cheek and back of the lip (also mucous membrane). It delivered all the insulin to the liver without wasting or breaking down any insulin along the way.

“For injectable insulin, we usually need 100 iu. Other gastric lavage tablets may require 500 iu of insulin, which is often wasted, and that’s the main problem we’re trying to solve,” Yigon says.

Most oral insulin tablets that work release insulin slowly over two to four hours, while injectable insulin is fully released within 30 to 120 minutes.

“Like a rapid-acting insulin injection, our oral delivery tablets are absorbed in half an hour and last for two to four hours,” says Dr. Baldelli.

Potentially extensive benefits

The research has not yet progressed to human trials, and Dr. Pratap-Singh says they will need more time, funding and collaboration. But beyond the obvious potential benefits for people with diabetes, he says, the tablet they’re working on could be more sustainable, cost-effective and affordable.

“Over 300,000 Canadians need to inject insulin multiple times a day,” says Dr. Pratap-Singh. “That’s a lot of environmental waste from plastic from needles and syringes that can go to landfill without being recycled, which is not a problem with an oral pill.”

He said their hope is to lower the cost of insulin per dose because their oral alternative is cheaper and easier to make. Carrying the pills would be easier for diabetics, who may have to think about freezing their doses at this point.

Interview language(s): English

The first part of this study has been published Journal of the Nature Publishing Group Scientific reports.

Media assets

  • Lab images of the tablet are available via Dropbox


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