Diabetes patients are well aware of the pain of constant insulin injections. Throughout the day, multiple doses are needed to maintain blood sugar levels, requiring immense effort and energy. However, “smart” insulin could soon make this issue a thing of the past.

What is smart insulin (glucose-responsive insulin)?

Glucose-responsive insulin (GRI), also known as “smart” insulin, is a promising treatment option for people with diabetes. If successful, GRI could result in blood sugar levels remaining within range throughout the day. GRI comes in the form of a thin, square patch, which is no bigger than a penny. The patch is covered with more than 120 tiny needles, each about the size of an eyelash. These microneedles are packed with microscopic storage units for insulin, as well as glucose-sensing enzymes that rapidly release their cargo when blood sugar levels get too high.

How does smart insulin work?

Throughout the day, the patch monitors blood sugar levels. The patch will release insulin as needed, sensing increases in glucose levels and releasing insulin in response. Generally, these patches integrate a glucose-sensing or conversion module, which activates the insulin-releasing module. They read blood sugar levels through the microneedles in each patch.

Most importantly, these microneedles are not painful to use. Thinner than a human hair, each microneedle contains packets of insulin and glucose oxidase, an enzyme that treats high glucose levels. Moreover, this patch can be customized for each patient’s unique needs. This ensures that the wrong amount of insulin is not released into the patient’s bloodstream, which is imperative in the treatment of diabetes: injecting the wrong amount of insulin can lead to serious health issues, including coma or even death.

Where can I get smart insulin?

So far, researchers have tested the patch on diabetic mice, where it was successful in controlling their blood glucose levels. Next, the patch will need to be tested on humans. Clinical trials will record whether the patch sends out the right amount of insulin, as well as whether it irritates people’s skin. If successful, this novel form of treatment may have incredible applications in the world of insulin therapy.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.