What are your thoughts on taking pills instead of injections? We type 1s and our colleagues in insulin-taking at the type 2 camp have believed for years an insulin tablet isn’t a go-er because of what stomach acids would do to it.
Recent research says an insulin pill might now be in the offing. My husband got excited about it, emailing me a link to the published article. I was more “meh”. The injections I take seem to be the least bothersome bit of diabetes. Working out how to get your blood sugars in line, constant blood sugar tests (restrictive, dependent on how many sticks you’re prescribed a month), tiredness when you don’t get the dosage right—they’re the things that make diabetes tricky to deal with.
As a child, pre-diabetes, a boy on a neighbouring farm was diagnosed some months ahead of me. “Ooh,” the young me said, “I wouldn’t like to inject myself all the time.” Nine-year-olds tend to think that way, condensing diabetes down to the one thing that seems horrific—more than daily injections.
The nine-year-old obviously tempted fate in that some months later I too was in hospital practising shots on an orange. (What did that poor orange ever do to me?) If someone had promised me a pill at the time, young Emma would have leapt on it.
Back to the research. Professor Samir Mitragotri, who co-authored the study from Harvard University, says his team they took a new approach by dispersing insulin in a liquid made of two components. They were a nutrient called choline, and a substance called geranic acid that is found naturally in cardamom.
Hormone stays intact
They experimented on rats and found the pill lowered the animals’ blood sugar levels rapidly. The team say further experiments suggested the liquid in which the insulin was dispersed inside the capsule stops the hormone from being broken down by enzymes in the digestive system after the capsule dissolves. This helps the insulin pass through the mucus layer of the intestines and opens the seal between adjacent cells lining the intestines, so insulin can pass into the blood vessels.
The article says it will be several years before clinical trials can begin as so far, the method has only been tried in a few small animal studies. It isn’t clear either whether someone could use the pill for background (basal) insulin.
I’m still meh. There is a lot of trials currently being conducted, researching multiple ways to help we folks with diabetes. While there are people who do have genuine needle phobias and find injections unpleasant and painful, I’m lucky enough not to be one.
Pill or injection? Not bothered. Closed loop pump system or (whisper it), the hallowed cure. Okay then…