Researchers have announced that an insulin pill has successfully been found that reduced nightly blood glucose levels in nearly 200 patients with type 2 diabetes. This is exciting because before now it was assumed that insulin wouldn't be able to survive the digestive process in our stomach and therefore had to be injected into the body.
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This means that in the near future, patients with type 2 diabetes might not have to resort to getting shots each and every day.
While the research hasn't been published yet, they are submitting the results for peer review. The company is a small Israeli organization called Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc, and they have faith in their product.
"It's been a long trip but it's finally at the point that it's beyond a doubt, the oral insulin works," chief executive of Oramed, Nadav Kidron, told Bill Berkrot for Reuters.
The new tablets have an extremely protective coating and a high enough dose of insulin that it can get destroyed by the digestive track and still deliver the correct amount to the bloodstream. It will be critical to determine if this will work for most users, as getting it wrong could result in diabetic comas.
In the 28-day trial, the researchers studied 180 patients with type 2 diabetes who were no longer responding to metformin, the first-line medication given to people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Before bed, they were either given the insulin pill or a placebo and their overnight glucose levels were checked.
Those who were given the oral insulin had a mean nighttime glucose reduction of nearly 6.5% compared to the placebo group. So far there haven't been any serious side effects.
Phase III clinical trials will start soon and then it will only be a matter of time until they hit pharmacies.
Researchers hope that these new pills will be easier on patients because they mimic the way the body gets insulin.
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"If you inject insulin, it goes straight into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver which also needs insulin," Miriam Kidron, the medical doctor who's leading some of the trials, said. "The beauty of this pill is that it mimics the natural production of insulin by delivering insulin to the liver."