Researchers at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston have announced the findings of the pre-clinical test in the International Journal of Nanomedicine.
The smart particle system has been designed to mimic functions of the pancreas, which produces that blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin. It is an inhalable system.
When the system was tested on animal models with suppressed pancreatic functions for up to six hours, it stabilised their blood sugar levels.
The smart particle system consists of a blood sugar sensing protein called concanavalin A (Con A), and bundles of tiny fat bubbles called liposomes that are loaded with insulin.
"Con A binds insulin-containing liposomes that are coated with sugars, to each other, to form the inhaled particles," said Dr. Ananth V. Annapragada, an associate professor at the UT School of Health Information Sciences, in whose laboratory the study was conducted.
"When blood sugar becomes present, the Con A releases the particles to bind independently to the sugars. The released particles then release their insulin," he added.
The body stops producing insulin when its immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, triggering Type I diabetes. High blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications and premature death.
"No one had ever shown that an inhalable smart release system was viable," said Annapragada, who describes the study as a "proof of concept" initiative.
He, however, admitted that further research was needed before the smart particle system's efficacy for human patients could be tested in clinical trials.
He also said that the smart particle system could potentially treat other health conditions.