The Future of Insulin Therapy: New Tech For Better Outcomes

Diabetes

Advances in insulin types and delivery systems over the last few decades have aimed to improve blood glucose management and quality of life for people with diabetes. From improvements to insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, to new insulin formulations, and automation of insulin delivery, the technological developments in the diabetes world have been numerous and fast-paced.

What other new products and technologies can we expect in the future? The medical company Thermalin has many exciting ideas and ongoing developments on the horizon.

Thermalin was started approximately ten years ago by Michael Weiss, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Chair of The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Weiss has decades of experience, and an extensive publication record, with a particular focus in insulin physiology. One of the primary goals of his company is to develop “new forms of insulin that will lower the burden of insulin use, increase patient adoption of and adherence to insulin therapy, improve patient lives and outcomes, and lower the cost.”

Products in Development

At this time, researchers are investigating several approaches that aim to lessen the burden of insulin therapy and improve outcomes. Some of the potential products and technologies they are working on include:

  • Small insulin pumps that will be about one-fourth the size of what is currently available. They are expected to have broad compatibility with a variety of smart devices and integrate with CGMs. Moreover, the pumps will come pre-filled and is expected to last for up to one week. Excitingly, a prototype has already been developed.
  • A variety of stable insulin preparations (no need for refrigeration). In particular, efforts on ultra-rapid and concentrated insulins are ongoing, with several products poised to begin clinical trials soon.
  • “Smart” basal insulin that will respond to changes in blood glucose levels. This product is still early in the stages of development.

Thermalin has recently announced that they received a grant from the NIH that should enable them to move forward with one of their ultra-rapid insulin candidates. Importantly, the development and approval of temperature-stable insulin will also allow for improvements to insulin pump technologies. Devices could then come pre-filled, and users could enjoy longer wear time without worrying about insulin integrity.

Altogether, temperature-stable insulin analog, along with smaller pumps that are technologically advanced but also less burdensome to wear, may help patients view pump therapy more favorably. The company points out a particular population that may benefit on their website:

“Many patients prefer to inject themselves privately before meals rather than wear a visible stigma of their disease. Good treatment habits are frequently developed in childhood but too often are lost in the teenage years; for body-conscious teenagers, a pump that is too visible just won’t be used. This means many patients will not adopt the new, automated pumps that can significantly improve blood sugar control.”

They also note the importance of shelf-stable insulin, and particularly in the developing world:

“In many parts of the developing world, patients do not have refrigerators and live long distances from clinics. Further, many of these clinics are not well served by “cold chain” distribution.  This means these patients do not have a reliable supply of needed insulin.”

We will continue to follow the development of these new products and update you as they begin to progress through clinical trials.

What do you think about these advances? What would you like to see come about in diabetes technology in the next decade? Please share your thoughts in the comments; we love hearing from our readers!

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