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Question:

From Germany:

I hear that now there is insulin, that you can drink. Is that true? Is this only for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?

Answer:

There have been many many attempts to see if the tyranny of daily injections can be circumvented by giving insulin by mouth. As you can imagine, the immediate problem is that insulin is rapidly broken down by proteolytic enzymes in the stomach. Even when these problems are to some extent circumvented by putting the insulin in capsules or giving enzyme inhibitors, the absorption is unpredictable and requires much larger doses than by subcutaneous injection. Insulin is absorbed though and active once this has taken place; but it is only being used in this way nowadays in attempts to modify the progress of the immunological damage to the islet cells and not for the control of blood sugar.

You will be interested to hear, however, that there have been some rather successful early trials of inhaled insulin using a device rather like the kind asthmatics use. Trials are still incomplete so that the system is not yet approved for general use either in North America or Europe. It remains to be seen (for instance) what happens when respiratory infections are superimposed.

DOB

Original posting 28 Jan 1999
Posted to Insulin

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:02
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