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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Smart Insulin Patch: A Painless Way to Manage Diabetes

People suffering from diabetes may eventually bid goodbye to those painful insulin injections.

(Photo : Getty Image) People suffering from diabetes may eventually bid goodbye to those painful insulin injections.

A group of researchers devised a new artificial painless patch filled with natural beta cells, which are insulin-producing cells found in the pancreas that can regulate blood sugar levels.

Over the last decades, scientists have been trying to mimic functions of beta cells, which are insulin-producing entities that are malfunctioning on patients with diabetes. Since insulin injections are a rather painful way to be a beta cell substitute, researchers at the University of North Carolina were able to create a pain-free option: smart insulin patch.

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The smart insulin patch can regulate blood sugar levels without posing risk of inducing hypoglycemia. Patches come in small squares resembling the size of a quarter and is covered by tiny needles, which are integrated with live beta cells.

In clinical trials conducted on animals, results found that it could significantly control high sugar levels and lower it for up to 10 hours at a time, but it still lacks substantial evidences on its possible effects on humans.

"This study provides a potential solution for the tough problem of rejection, which has long plagued studies on pancreatic cell transplants for diabetes," said senior author Zhen Gu from the joint University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"Plus, it demonstrates that we can build a bridge between the physiological signals within the body and these therapeutic cells outside the body to keep glucose levels under control," Gu added.

Beta cells naturally produce insulin for the body. These can help regulate sugar levels that usually accumulate in the bloodstream after meals. However, in people with diabetes, these beta cells are damaged or cannot produce enough amount of insulin to control sugar levels.

Thus, the introduction of this new breakthrough is an exciting news for people with diabetes, who may now be given a break from diabetes self-care.

Diabetes currently affects more than 380 million people across the globe; the study reveals that the number is anticipated to increase to 500 billion by 2030.

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