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Innovative Oral Insulin Drops: A Leap Forward for Diabetes Management

In a groundbreaking development, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has become the epicentre of a medical breakthrough that promises to transform the lives of the 11.7 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Researchers at the esteemed Li Lab have unveiled a revolutionary pain-free drug delivery method that could potentially replace the dreaded insulin injections.

A New Dawn with Oral Insulin Drops

The Li Lab, spearheaded by Dr. Shyh-Dar Li, has developed oral insulin drops that are quickly and efficiently absorbed when placed under the tongue. This innovative approach is poised to make insulin injections a thing of the past.

The Science Behind the Breakthrough

The secret to the success of these oral drops lies in a unique cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) that accompanies the insulin. This peptide, a product of Dr. Li’s extensive research, facilitates the passage of insulin through the cellular barriers, ensuring its swift entry into the bloodstream.

Innovative Oral Insulin Drops: A Leap Forward For Diabetes Management

The Peptide Guide: Simplifying Insulin Delivery

“Insulin is a complex molecule that struggles to survive the harsh environment of the stomach and to penetrate cells on its own,” explains Dr. Li. The peptide, derived from fish byproducts, acts as a guide, leading insulin through the cellular labyrinth to its destination.

Pre-clinical trials have been promising, demonstrating that insulin, when paired with the peptide, successfully reaches the bloodstream, a feat not achievable by insulin alone.

The Path to Commercialisation

The UBC team has detailed two versions of the peptide in the Journal of Controlled Release and is now seeking to license this technology to a commercial partner, aiming to bring this innovation to the market.

The Importance of Insulin Regulation

For individuals without diabetes, the pancreas naturally regulates insulin to manage blood glucose levels post-meal. However, those with diabetes lack this capability and must rely on external insulin sources to prevent dangerous glucose spikes.

While injections provide the quickest insulin delivery method, they demand a rigorous regimen that can severely impact the patient’s quality of life and lead to long-term complications.

Dr. Li’s Vision for a Needle-Free Future

Dr. Li’s lab has dedicated three years to developing needle-free insulin alternatives, culminating in the creation of these oral drops. “Our goal is to ease the medication process for diabetes patients, helping them to better regulate their blood glucose and maintain their health,” says Dr. Li.

A Safer Alternative to Inhalable Insulin

Previous inhalable insulin products faced setbacks due to suboptimal effects and increased lung cancer risks. Dr. Li’s oral insulin drops aim to deliver rapid, pain-free insulin without such adverse side effects, also reducing the risks associated with needle use.

This innovation marks a significant stride in diabetes care, offering a glimpse of a future where managing the condition is less invasive and more patient-friendly.

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