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Researchers at the University of North Carolina and at North Carolina State University, including Dr. Zhen Gu, Jin Di, and Jennifer Price of BME, are in the process of developing a brand new nanotechnology-based technique for helping diabetic patients regulate glucose levels.  The system utilizes an injectable nano-network of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) particles which are filled with insulin. Once injected into the patient, the network can remain active for days at a time, and the insulin can be released with a portable ultrasound device. The team has done proof-of-concept testing on mice with type-1 diabetes, which shows that the networks can contain enough insulin to regulate blood glucose for up to 10 days. “When the insulin runs out, you have to inject a new nano-network,” notes Jin Di, a graduate student in Dr. Gu’s lab and lead author on the paper, “the previous nano-network is dissolved and fully absorbed into the body in a few weeks.” The director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Diabetes Care Center, Dr. John Buse, notes that the technique could improve quality of life for millions of people suffering with daily insulin injections to regulate their diabetes, and he anticipates translating the work into clinical practice. Dr. Gu hopes that this will be “a big step toward giving diabetics a more painless method of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.”

To read more, take a look at the NCSU Press Release or the research team’s full article, “Ultrasound-Triggered Regulation of Blood Glucose Levels Using Injectible Nano-Network,” in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

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