There is a new smart insulin patch that’s only the size of a quarter. It’s not yet ready for human use, but a recent trial proved that it does work in animals. This new technology would make it much easier for people on insulin to manage their diabetes, cutting out the many steps involved in testing blood sugar and injecting insulin.
Researchers and bioengineers at UCLA, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston Children’s Hospital authored a new study on the adhesive patch. The same team conducted initial tests on the patch in 2015.
The team is applying for human trials with the FDA, and once tested, the patch could be used with other medications as well.
How does it work?
The smart patch can monitor blood sugar levels and regulate insulin for up to 24 hours. Tiny microneedles underneath the patch are preloaded with insulin and can release it whenever it’s needed.
The patch is “smart” in that it detects when blood sugar levels reach a certain level and knows to release insulin until levels get back to normal. The patch can help prevent overdoses of insulin by giving just the right amount.
As opposed to injections, discomfort should not be a problem. The needles are so small that one can barely feel them, and they only go a half millimeter beneath the skin.
Study lead Zhen Gu of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering said, “Our main goal is to enhance health and improve the quality of life for people who have diabetes. 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’s mimicking the regulatory function of the pancreas, but in a way that’s easy to use.”
The new research was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.