New smart insulin developed to prevent hypoglycaemia

A new smart insulin has been developed which could help people prevent hypoglycaemia, researchers have said.

Currently known as i-insulin, a research team from the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles have added an extra molecule to the hormone which they say can prevent low blood glucose levels.

“Our new i-insulin works like a ‘smart’ key”

The study’s principal investigator, Zhen Gu, a professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, said: “Our new i-insulin works like a ‘smart’ key’. The insulin lets glucose get into the cell, but the added inhibitor molecule prevents too much from going in when blood glucose is normal. This keeps blood glucose at normal levels and reduces the risk of hypoglycaemia.”


Smart Insulin


The medication has been tested in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. A first injection of insulin was shown to be effective in keeping blood glucose levels within the normal range for up to 10 hours. A second injection of the insulin was given three hours afterwards which continued the protection from hypoglycaemia.

The next step is to test the i-insulin on humans in a clinical trial. If the results show the treatment to be safe and effective, the treatment could radically change diabetes care.

The study’s co-lead author, postdoctoral researcher Jinqiang Wang, added: “This i-insulin can also rapidly respond to high glucose levels.

“For example, after a meal, when glucose levels climb, the insulin level in the bloodstream also quickly increases, which helps normalize the glucose level.”

Dr Gu concluded: “The new insulin has the potential to be optimized for response times and how long it could last in the body before another dose would be required.”

The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Join our community of over 33,000 people living with diabetes