NEW diabetes discovery dubbed ‘the holy grail’ of research

Monday, August 01, 2016 by

The secret to delivering insulin in tablet form is considered “the holy grail of diabetes research”, because hundreds of thousands of sufferers are currently forced to inject themselves to keep the condition under control.
(Article by Lucy  Johnston)
But now experts from Israel and the US have found a way to deliver insulin to the body through the gut.Previous attempts had been unsuccessful because the pills were easily destroyed by various digestive juices in the mouth, stomach and intestines.

Now the team has developed a special coating to protect the pill in the stomach and mouth together with an “acid neutralising” chemical that is released once the pill hits the intestines.The insulin is then absorbed into the bloodstream directly leading to the liver which is one of the main organs whose malfunctioning contributes to diabetes.With injections the insulin takes a more roundabout route through the blood stream.


With injections the insulin takes a more roundabout route through the blood stream

The scientists, in collaboration with Jerusalem drug firm Oramed, hope that by intervening early some of the many – and sometimes deadly – complications of diabetes could be averted.These include nerve damage leading to amputations, kidney failure and eye damage leading to blindness.Preliminary results of trials show that the new pill was effective at reducing blood glucose levels in diabetics.

Dr Roy Eldor, head of diabetes at Tel Aviv Medical Center and chief medical officer for Oramed, said: “It’s the holy grail of diabetes research. I am very excited that we have positive results.“Diabetes is a pandemic, a huge burden of disease that we have not overcome. Injections are a deterrent to treatment because people don’t like them, even though needles are thinner and more refi ned than they once were.”

The team is to launch further trials which if successful could see the new drug released onto the market in five years.

Nobel Prize-winning chemist Professor Avram Hershko was brought in to find a way of putting insulin in a pill and keeping it intact in the gut. He helped devise a coating for Oramed’s pill with a substance found in soybeans.

People with diabetes fail to make enough insulin to protect the body from the noxious effects of high glucose.The pill is being developed for patients with Type 2 diabetes who often see their disease progress to the point where they need insulin injections.

Type 1 diabetics, whose own body destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, may also benefit from this pill in the future.

Type 2 accounts for more than 90 percent of the 400 million diabetics worldwide. There are more than four million diabetics in the UK with around 550,000 with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

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