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Question:

From California, USA:

Recently on the news I saw a new device in the treatment of diabetes - an inhalant for insulin. My son, now thirteen, has been IDDM for a year. Although he gives himself insulin shots, he would be ecstatic if an inhalant system would work for him. What can you tell me about this device?

Answer:

People with diabetes have long hoped for a utopia where islet cell transplantations were practicable or where insulin could be given and glucose measured in a non-invasive way. The former remains elusive, although the recent practise of giving donor bone marrow cells at the time the islets are given may begin a change in that approach.

The idea of using nebulized insulin in rather the same way as asthmatics use inhalers has been attractive ever since it was shown that insulin could be absorbed from the respiratory tract. One of the most recent attempts to develop this approach was begun in New Zealand and achieved some clinical success. The apparatus however was cumbersome, the amount of insulin required much greater than by injection and the results erratic. The project was eventually abandoned.

The most recently advertised equipment is being manufactured in the U.S.; but has not, I believe, as yet got FDA approval. It is difficult to believe that it could afford the level of control that modern practise demands and which new insulins and new needles make easier to achieve.

DO'B

Original posting 20 Apr 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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