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University of Texas BioNano Researchers Design Smart Insulin Release System

by Editor1 last modified October 19, 2007 - 13:47

Bioengineering and nanomedicine researchers at University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences (Houston, Tex.) have successfully devised an inhalable ‘smart’ insulin release system, which in animals mimics the pancreas’ ability to detect and control surges in blood sugars.

University of Texas BioNano Researchers Design Smart Insulin Release System


UT’s “smart particle insulin release system” detect spikes in blood sugar levels, and responds by releasing appropriate doses of insulin into a person’s system. The work’s pre-clinical test results appear in September’s International Journal of Nanomedicine.

The system, notable because it is inhalable, is detailed in IJM's “Glucose-sensing pulmonary delivery of human insulin to the systemic circulation of rats.” The work was conducted in the laboratory of Ananth V. Annapragada, an associate professor at the UT School of Health Information Sciences. Efstathios Karathanasis was the lead author, and Rohan C. Bhavane a contributor to the article.

The smart particle system uses a blood sugar-sensing protein (Concanavalin A and bundles liposomes loaded with insulin. “[Con A] binds insulin-containing liposomes that are coated with sugars to each other to form the inhaled particles,” Prof. Annapragada said. “When blood sugar [is] present, the Con A releases the particles to bind independently to the sugars. The released particles then release their insulin.”

The work holds special import for those suffering with Type I diabetes, where the body’s immune system actually destroys the pancreatic cells that can produce insulin.

The project’s “smart particle insulin release system” stabilized blood sugar levels in animal models with suppressed pancreatic functions for up to six hours, researchers reported.

While the work pushes new frontiers in nanomedicine, Prof. Annapragada cautions more research is needed. Calling the current UT work a “proof of concept,” he said work to discover less inflammatory proteins or small molecule that can sense surges in blood sugar is needed before any clinical trials can be conducted.