Smart insulin nanostructures pass feasibility test

September 20, 2007

Biomedical engineers at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston have announced pre-clinical test results in the September issue of the International Journal of Nanomedicine demonstrating the feasibility of a smart particle insulin release system that detects spikes in glucose or blood sugar levels and releases insulin to counteract them.

Designed to mimic functions of the pancreas which produces the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin, the smart particle system stabilized blood sugar levels in animal models with suppressed pancreatic functions for up to six hours, researchers reported. It is an inhalable system.

The study, “Glucose-sensing pulmonary delivery of human insulin to the systemic circulation of rats,” was conducted in the laboratory of Ananth V. Annapragada, Ph.D., an associate professor at the UT School of Health Information Sciences. Research assistant Efstathios Karathanasis was lead author and postdoctoral fellow Rohan C. Bhavane was a contributor on the article.

The smart particle system consists of a blood sugar sensing protein named concanavalin A (Con A) and bundles of tiny fat bubbles called liposomes that are loaded with insulin. “Con A binds insulin-containing liposomes that are coated with sugars, to each other, to form the inhaled particles,” Annapragada said. “When blood sugar becomes present, the Con A releases the particles to bind independently to the sugars. The released particles then release their insulin.”

Hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer Type I diabetes, a condition that develops when the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells – the only cells that make insulin. High blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications and premature death.

“No one had ever shown that an inhalable smart release system was viable,” said Annapragada, who describes the study as a “proof of concept” initiative. He said additional work – including the discovery of less inflammatory blood sugar sensing proteins or small molecules – will be required before its efficacy for patients can be tested in clinical trials.

The smart particle system could potentially treat other health conditions, he said.

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Explore further: Protective hinge process enables insulin to bind to cells

Related Stories

Protective hinge process enables insulin to bind to cells

August 4, 2014

Since its landmark discovery in 1922, insulin has improved the health and extended the lives of more than 500 million people worldwide with diabetes mellitus. Yet the question of how this key hormone binds to its target cells ...

Invisibility cloak for hearing aids and implants

February 3, 2014

Microsystems are at the heart of portable hearing aids and implants. Now researchers are developing a miniature, low-power wireless microsystem to make these medical aids smaller, more comfortable and more efficient.

A tiny, time-released treatment

October 9, 2013

Omid Farokhzad's vision of medicine's future sounds a lot like science fiction. He sees medicine scaled down, with vanishingly small nanoparticles playing a big role, delivering drug doses measured in molecules directly to ...

Recommended for you

Fast times and hot spots in plasmonic nanostructures

August 4, 2015

The ability to control the time-resolved optical responses of hybrid plasmonic nanostructures was demonstrated by a team led by scientists in the Nanophotonics Group at the Center for Nanoscale Materials including collaborators ...

Study explores nanoscale structure of thin films

August 4, 2015

The world's newest and brightest synchrotron light source—the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory—has produced one of the first publications ...

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode

July 29, 2015

A team of researchers from Berkeley Lab and Columbia University has passed a major milestone in molecular electronics with the creation of the world's highest-performance single-molecule diode. Working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.