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'Smart' insulin could reduce dangerous complications of diabetes treatment

Zhen Gu, PhD (front) & John Buse, MD, PhD
Zhen Gu, PhD (front) & John Buse, MD, PhD

A study supported by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute has developed a "smart" insulin that could reduce dangerous complications in people who use the drug to manage diabetes. This new type of insulin, called i-insulin, is released for action when the blood sugar or glucose levels rise and blocks its own activity when glucose levels fall.

The findings, generated in mice, appeared this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was led by former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher Zhen Gu, PhD, now a professor of bioengineering at UCLA.

More pre-clinical tests and subsequent clinical trials in humans will be required before the smart insulin will be available to patients, according to study co-author John Buse, MD, PhD, co-PI of NC TraCS. "However, the vision, if realized, would be one of the most exciting advances in diabetes care," he said.

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