Imagine: Smart Insulin that could sense high glucose levels and automatically dispense insulin on demand. "As your glucose levels drop off, the drug stabilizes, trapping insulin until the next glucose spike." WOW! So it knows if you've been bad or good and just jumps right in there to correct your BG like a healthy pancreas?!
You are kidding me, right? Weeeelll, not according to Todd Zion, founder and CEO of SmartCells, a privately held company based in Beverly, MA, that is developing such a self-regulating drug. It would be injected just once a day, using the same needles currently used for conventional insulin.
Two weeks ago, the company announced an agreement with the JDRF that includes $1 million in first-year funding to support preclinical safety and efficacy testing. "The partnership is structured to support milestone-based funding through proof-of-concept human clinical trials." WOW.
As a reader noted in a recent email, "This sounds like the best news in diabetes in over a decade." In longer than that, I might argue!
Read this Technology Review article for all the details.
"SmartInsulin works via competitive binding, in which insulin (orange lines), attached to a sugar group (orange hexagons), binds with a sugar-binding molecule (blue circle) in solution. When glucose (blue hexagons) in the body is high, it competes with insulin to bind to the sugar-binding molecules, displacing insulin and releasing it into the bloodstream as needed."
Also, the requisite disclaimer:
"Before starting clinical trials, the researchers will have to make sure that the drug is, in essence, foolproof--that is, that there aren't any molecular signals other than glucose that could unnecessarily release insulin into the bloodstream, says Frederick Schoen, a professor of pathology and health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School. "You have to avoid bursts of insulin, which can be dangerous," says Schoen. "It's an exciting concept, and should be pursued, but lots of questions should be answered along the way."
Right. Not getting my hopes up too much. But still ... this one's exxx-citing!!