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Can the Insulin Patch Become a Reality?

Jul 3, 2015

A “smart” insulin patch mimicking the actions of the pancreas has been tested in mice….

Researchers may have developed a patch that mimics the action of the pancreas; it senses increased levels of blood glucose and consequently releases the amount of insulin necessary to bring blood glucose levels within normal range. The patch has only been tested in mice with chemically induced type 1 diabetes. One set of mice was treated with regular insulin injections, while another set of mice was treated using the patch.


The blood glucose levels of the mice that were treated with regular insulin injections were normalized, but rapidly returned to above normal levels. The blood glucose levels of the mice treated using the patch were controlled after about 30 minutes and remained that way for a number of hours. Researchers were also able to make adjustments to the amount of insulin stored and released by the patch. And the patch had a decreased risk of hypoglycemia.

If the patch becomes a reality, insulin-dependent diabetics could reduce their number of injections by 2 – 4 each day.

Practice Pearls:

  • An insulin patch is a painless alternative to insulin injections currently being researched for use in humans.
  • An insulin patch could increase compliance, greatly reducing the number of times an individual needs to stick himself on a daily basis.
  • If approved for use in humans, an insulin patch could improve blood glucose control in insulin-dependent diabetics, reducing long term complications and increasing the quality of life.

Jicheng Yu, Yuqi Zhang, Yanqi Ye, Rocco Disanto, et al. “Microneedle-array patches loaded with hypoxia-sensitive vesicles provide fast glucose-responsive insulin delivery.” PNAS (2015): n. pag. Web. 25 Jun 2015.