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[IP] Insulin inhaler could replace shots

Approach would offer more convenient diabetes therapy


Feb. 1  Life may soon be easier for diabetics because their daily multiple
insulin injections could be replaced with an inhaled hormone, researchers

        MANY DIABETICS must have three or more daily insulin injections to
control their blood sugar levels, but new research published in The Lancet
medical journal shows insulin inhaled from a small aerosol can be just as
       Since the discovery of insulin in the early 1920s everyone said,
cant we do this without injections? People tried every conceivable route.
This is the first one that looks like it will be commercially viable, lead
author Dr. Jay Skyler said.
       It is going to be an option. This potentially replaces the pre-meal
injection for people with diabetes, the professor at the University of Miami
School of Medicine added.

       The researchers compared the insulin inhaler, which could be widely
available in a few years, with standard injections on 73 people with type 1
       Unlike type 2, or adult onset diabetes, which can be controlled by
diet, exercise and drugs, type 1 patients produce no insulin and depend on
daily insulin injections.
       The patients were divided into two groups: half had their normal
two-to-three daily injections while the other half received the inhaled
insulin and a bedtime injection. All of the patients monitored their blood
sugar levels four times a day and adjusted the insulin dose to achieve
       After 12 weeks the two groups were indistinguishable in major
measurements to test effectiveness. But the inhaler patients said it was
easier to use, more comfortable and convenient and less difficult than daily
       This was a proof of concept study to demonstrate if you can actually
get enough insulin in through the lungs so you dont have to take the
injections before meals. The answer to the question is yes, Skyler said.

       Confidence in insulin inhalers took a knock last month when a
stockbroker report highlighted concerns about the safety of the inhalers
following an animal study suggesting they could cause cancer.
       But Skyler said he could not verify the report.
       We do not know the source, it was never quoted, he said. As far as
we are concerned it is the usual kind of nonsense that exists on the Net and
creates havoc for no reason and without factual data.

         Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10 percent to 25 percent of the
estimated 130 million people with the disease worldwide. Without daily
insulin, patients with low blood sugar levels can slip into a coma, while
levels can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney problems and
       In patients with the most severe cases of the disease, surgeons have
transplanted donor insulin-producing islet cells from the pancreas, but the
technique is still being perfected and patients must take anti-rejection
for the remainder of their lives.
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