New Danish insulin to ease blood sugar rollercoaster

Promising research could lead to a better quality of life for diabetics in the future

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have created a new type of insulin that aims to reduce the fluctuating blood sugar levels associated with the daily consumption of industrial insulin.

The new insulin type has been tested on rats and the researchers think that it could give diabetics a better quality of life with fewer side-effects in the long run.

“Insulin is far better today than it was ten years ago, but many still suffer traumas during the night or pass out during the day due to low blood sugar numbers, even though they take the recommended dosage,” Knud Jensen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry, told Ingeniøren newspaper.

Jensen and his research partner, the PhD student Henrick Munch, have collaborated with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk as part of the project. The findings have been published in the renowned journal Angewandte Chemie.

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A finished product?
The challenge in the production of insulin medication is to create equally homogeneous nanostructures. The more uniformly insulin can be assembled, the more likely it is that it can be released in predictable amounts and at steady rates, according to Jensen.

Despite encouraging testing on rats, the researchers are a long way off finalising a product fit for human consumption.

But the researchers are continuing their work and hope that their labour will eventually translate into a medical product that can be injected into fat depots beneath the skin.

“We have demonstrated that we can influence the manner in which insulin assembles, and we have demonstrated that the insulin can then be released,” said Jensen.

“A great deal of work remains before the principles of our nano-insulin can be translated into a medication. But for me, it is absolutely clear that this could be a good method for designing medications that release over extended periods of time from depots beneath the skin. Because we are able to control the insulin’s self-assembling properties so precisely, I believe that the method can also be used to design insulin with a variety of properties.”