Researchers in the United States have successfully harnessed plant cells and cellulose technology to create plant-based insulin that can be taken orally and delivered to the liver, New Atlas reports, citing the journal Biomaterials.
Led by Henry Daniel of the University of Pennsylvania Dental School, researchers have created a promising botanical insulin containing the three peptides that are naturally found in insulin, which can also be taken orally.
Plant cell walls are just as important as the genetic material inside, and key to drug efficacy. The strength of the genetic material protects insulin from the acids and enzymes of the upper digestive tract, until the drug reaches the microbes in the gut, which then release insulin, which then travels through the gut-liver axis to reach its destination.
An experiment on laboratory rats
In an experiment on lab rats, plant insulin was able to regulate blood sugar within 15 minutes, compared to naturally occurring insulin. Mice treated with conventional insulin injections experienced a crash in their blood glucose levels, leading to hypoglycemia.
It does not cause coma
One of the biggest drawbacks of the current delivery system is the risk of hypoglycemia and can lead to coma, said Dr. Daniel. Whereas insulin, taken orally, contains all three proteins and is delivered directly to the liver. It works identically. Just like normal insulin, reducing the risk of developing hypoglycemia.
Lower costs and higher quality
Current medications such as insulin pen injections are at risk of causing hypoglycemia, while the precise drug delivery provided by an insulin pump requires expensive devices and has a lifespan of three to four years.
Lettuce freeze and dry
The current study found that although part of the plant’s genome was altered, no harmful effects were seen in either the plant or animals in the experiment. With the genes proven safe, the lettuce could be frozen, dried and prepared for oral delivery.
experiments on dogs
While the results in the lab mouse study are very promising, there is still some time before this method can benefit many millions of patients with diabetes. But the researchers are confident of moving to a larger trial, first with diabetic dogs, and then humans.
Changing the treatment regimen
Dr Daniel said, “The delivery system [للأنسولين النباتي عن طريق الفم]It will change the whole paradigm, not just insulin,” he said, noting that he grew up in a developing country and saw first-hand people die because they couldn’t afford medicines or vaccines. Therefore, affordability and universal access to healthcare are the foundation of his work, especially since “The new approach will make it possible to provide insulin cheaply while improving it significantly. In other words, patients will be able to get an excellent drug at a lower cost.”
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