While experts are constantly working to improve diabetes treatment, researchers from the University of North Carolina, UCLA, and MIT have discovered a new treatment option that utilizes the powers of the latest technology.
The experts have created a small, quarter-sized insulin patch that relies on smart technology to monitor and treat users. Diabetes patients put the patch on and allow it to do the work for them, as the patch will monitor glucose levels and then distribute insulin throughout the body as needed.
“Our main goal is to enhance health and improve the quality of life for people who have diabetes,” said researcher Samueli Gu, PhD. “This smart patch takes away the need to constantly check one’s blood sugar and then inject insulin if and when it’s needed. It mimics the regulatory function of the pancreas but in a way that’s easy to use.”
Benefits of smart technology
The team’s primary goal was to make it easier for diabetes patients to go about their regular day-to-day routines. With current measures requiring patients to consistently check their blood sugar and administer their own insulin, this new patch would streamline the entire process.
The patch is made up of tiny microneedles that serve as both sensors to monitor the wearer’s blood sugar. When appropriate, it also acts as an instrument to deliver insulin throughout the body to regulate glucose levels.
The researchers explained that diabetes patients shouldn’t worry about any pain associated with the prick of the patch’s microneedles. The needles on the patch are smaller than one millimeter and go only as deep as necessary -- half a millimeter -- to deliver the insulin to the body.
Based on their trials on animals, the patch operated as designed for 20 hours. The researchers anticipate similar results for humans, which would require changing the patch each day. Moving forward, the researchers are waiting for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to give them approval to begin testing the patch on humans with diabetes.
“It has always been a dream to achieve insulin-delivery in a smart and convenient manner,” said researcher Dr. John Buse. “This smart insulin patch, if proven safe and effective in human trials, would revolutionize the patient experience of diabetes care.”