Medical breakthrough makes way for needle-free insulin

One of the painful realities of diabetes is the dreaded finger prick.

Australian scientists may be on the verge of helping drug makers develop needle-free insulin. Their findings, published in the journal Nature, seem to have answered the question of how insulin binds to receptors in cells via a 3-D view of the process.

Mike Lawrence, lead scientist at Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, explains:

"What we've done is providing that picture. A piece of insulin folds out and key pieces within the receptor move to engage the insulin hormone. You might call it a 'molecular handshake.'"

The promise of new treatments?

Insulin appears to engage with receptors in a unique way--both the receptor and insulin reconfigure themselves as they meet. Clearly understanding just how insulin interacts with receptor cells could make way for new types of insulin-delivery treatments that last longer and don't include needles.

"This structure is going to be a reference point for all future design of insulin," Lawrence said. "They (drug makers) are going to use that information ... for the next generation of insulin delivery devices, etc."

Finger pricking with the standard needle method can not only lead to pain, but patients can also develop extreme scarring, callouses and loss of feeling in the tip of the finger.

Source: News Max Health

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