Researchers showed that their modified insulin can circulate in the bloodstream for at least 10 hours, and that it responds rapidly to changes in blood-sugar levels. This could eliminate the need for diabetic patients to repeatedly monitor their BSL and inject insulin throughout the day.
Researcher Daniel Anderson, said, "The real challenge was to get the right amount of insulin available when one needs it, because if one has too little insulin their blood sugar goes up, and if one have too much, it can go dangerously low, a condition known as hypoglycemia that can lead to shock and even death."
To create this glucose-responsive insulin, the research team first added a hydrophobic molecule called an aliphatic domain, which is a long chain of fatty molecules dangling from the insulin molecule. This helps the insulin circulate in the bloodstream for a longer duration. Researchers do not yet know exactly the reason for this phenomenon. They suggest that the fatty tail may bind to albumin, a protein found in the bloodstream, sequestering the insulin and preventing it from latching onto sugar molecules.
Anderson said, "Giving this type of insulin once a day instead of long-acting insulin could offer patients a better alternative that reduces their blood-sugar swings, which can cause health problems when they continue for years and decades."