Smart insulin patch for diabetics

New Delhi: University of North Carolina Health Care (UCLA) bioengineers and colleagues at UNC School of Medicine and MIT have further developed a smart insulin-delivery patch that could one day monitor and manage glucose levels in people with diabetes and deliver the necessary insulin dosage. The adhesive patch, about the size of a quarter, is simple to manufacture and intended for once-a-day use.

The study describes research conducted on mice and pigs. The research team, led by Zhen Gu, PhD, professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, is applying for FDA approval of clinical trials in humans. Gu and colleagues conducted the initial successful tests of the smart insulin patch in mice in 2015 in North Carolina.

“Our main goal is to enhance health and improve the quality of life for people who have diabetes,” said Gu, a former professor in the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. “This smart patch takes away the need to constantly check one’s blood sugar and then inject insulin if and when it’s needed. It mimics the regulatory function of the pancreas but in a way that’s easy to use.”

The adhesive patch monitors blood sugar, or glucose. It has doses of insulin pre-loaded in very tiny microneedles, less than one-millimeter in length that deliver medicine quickly when the blood sugar levels reach a certain threshold. When blood sugar returns to normal, the patch’s insulin delivery also slows down.