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New Development: Smart Insulin Patch

Besides using a glucometer or one of the new technologies proposed in the past for checking blood glucose levels, the newly developed smart insulin patch may be the perfect solution to replace pricking altogether.  Although Lucas Research is not participating in this study, this new method of monitoring through a self-adhesive patch is close to release.

The Innovative Smart Insulin Patch- Development

The UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State Biomedical Engineering Program has jointly began development of a new diabetes monitoring solution.  The university has created “smart” insulin patches. Zhen Gu leads this team of engineers and has founded a company in Research Triangle Park. The company is called Zenomics Inc. Thanks to China’s MicroPort Scientific contribution of $5.8 million new diabetes research and testing is happening.

The patch replaces inconvenient, uncomfortable injections and pumps.  Current insulin delivery methods are not ideal. Right now, they pose painful and time-consuming scheduling.  The smart patch will enhance the health and quality of life for people living with diabetes.

The proposed patch will be responsive to insulin levels.  Diabetics will wear the dime sized “smart” insulin patch on their skin. Wear the patch on any part of the body. You can easily hide it under clothing.

How The Patch Works

Throughout the day, the patch monitors blood sugar levels. The patch will release insulin as needed. Read the levels through the 121 microneedles in each patch.  The microneedles are not painful. Thinner than a human hair, each one has packets of insulin preloaded in them. Not only does each microneedle contain insulin, it also includes glucose oxidase. That’s an enzyme that treats high glucose levels. It will sense when levels are too high and immediately results in the release of insulin.

One Patch, Personalized With Specifics In Mind

Because each diabetic patient has a different weight and difference in sensitivity to insulin, the patch can be personalized to fit each person’s needs. The patch development is done with ultimate precision.  This ensures that the wrong amount of insulin is not secreted into a patient’s bloodstream.  Injecting the wrong amount of insulin could cause blindness or an arm or leg amputation. For some people, the wrong amount of insulin released could lead to a coma or even death. Gu and his team work hard to make this patch versatile in functionality and provide safety for all who use it.

So far, researchers have tried the patch on diabetic mice and the patch has been successful at controlling their blood glucose. The next step forward in this research will need to be testing of the patch on humans. Gu recommends having humans trying one patch per day in the continuing research. Clinical trials will record whether the patch sends the right amount of insulin and whether it irritates people’s skin.  If skin irritations occur, the patch will have to be redesigned.  Right now, the patch is made of nontoxic, biocompatible materials. Gu continues to make great strides in developing the most innovative patch possible. Now, Gu’s goal is to make the smart insulin patch last for a few days at a time without removal.

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