A new, ultra-rapid formulation of insulin reached peak activity in pigs with diabetes about twice as fast as a commercially available option, according to new research.
The formulation, which peaked in as little as 9 minutes, could improve quality-of-life for patients with diabetes by allowing them to more quickly manage their blood sugar levels during mealtimes.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions, affecting about 40 million people around the world. Patients with diabetes usually receive routine injections of insulin to control their blood sugar levels, but current insulin formulations suffer from various drawbacks. For example, even fast-acting insulin treatments can take as long as 90 minutes to peak in activity, making them less than ideal for patients who need quick and effective blood sugar control during mealtimes.
Here, Joseph Mann and colleagues designed a faster-acting insulin formulation based on polymer excipients, compounds that maintain the insulin in a less aggregated form that more closely mimics how the hormone is naturally released in the body. The scientists used a high-throughput screen to evaluate various excipients, and integrated the top-performing candidate into an insulin formulation named UFAL.
When injected into pigs with diabetes, the new formulation reached peak activity in 9 minutes — twice as fast as the commercially available insulin formulation Humalog, which peaked in 25 minutes. Furthermore, UFAL was safe in rats and outperformed Humalog and similar rapid-acting insulin analogs in a model that simulates drug activity in humans.
The authors caution that more work is needed to pin down their formulation’s activity and safety in people, as pigs show different insulin dynamics compared with humans.
Read Researchers Develop a New Ultrafast Insulin for Management of Blood Sugar in Diabetes for more on this research from Stanford University.
Reference: “An ultrafast insulin formulation enabled by high-throughput screening of engineered polymeric excipients” by Joseph L. Mann, Caitlin L. Maikawa, Anton A. A. Smith, Abigail K. Grosskopf, Sam W. Baker, Gillie A. Roth, Catherine M. Meis, Emily C. Gale, Celine S. Liong, Santiago Correa, Doreen Chan, Lyndsay M. Stapleton, Anthony C. Yu, Ben Muir, Shaun Howard, Almar Postma and Eric A. Appel, 1 July 2020, Science Translational Medicine.