Insulin Board

Imagine if there was an insulin that responded to rises in blood glucose levels in the same way that the pancreas does in people without type 1 diabetes. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a form of insulin that performs this very task.

The insulin has the working name Ins-PBA-F and has been developed by a team of scientists at MIT led by Hung-Chieh Chou. PBA (phenylboronic acid) is a chemical group that acts to chaperone the insulin molecules. This chaperone helps insulin to circulate longer in the bloodstream and the researchers hypothesize that it may bind with albumin in the blood to make this possible. The F stands for Fluorine which the BPA was bonded to.

Note that PBA is not to be confused with BPA (bisphenol A), the compound used in plastics that has been linked with a number of endocrine problems.

Study shows exceptional performance

The researchers ran a clinical study to test the effects of the insulin in mice. Within the study, healthy mice were compared to diabetic mice on the modified smart insulin. The mice were given a glucose challenge, in which the sugar levels of the mice were raised to 350 mg/dL, and the blood glucose response in the different groups of mice were monitored.

The results showed that the response of the smart insulin performed as well or better than the native insulin in healthy mice with glucose. The study also showed that the smart insulin was able to remain in the blood and respond to changes in blood glucose levels for over 10 hours and up to 24 hours.

Safety and effectiveness

The insulin has so far been shown to work very well in mice. The researchers will also need to show it is safe for use in humans and to test whether it works as well in larger mammals as it has in mice.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.