Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology, have recently developed an injectable silk fibroin-based hydrogel for long-term insulin delivery in diabetic patients. A patent has also been applied for this invention.
Prof. T. Govindaraju and his JNCASR research team have developed the formulation of silk fibroin (SF) using biocompatible additives and created an injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) that can facilitate insulin delivery in diabetic patients. The iSFH has demonstrated successful administration of active insulin in rats, and the results have been published in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials.
The JNCASR scientists have shown that subcutaneous injection of insulin with iSFH in diabetic rats formed an active depot under the skin from which insulin slowly trickled out and restored physiological glucose homeostasis for a longer period of 4 days without risk of low blood sugar due to a sudden burst of high insulin concentration in the blood.
The viscous additives used by the team limited the mobility of SF protein backs and resulted in the rapid gelation. The microstructures provide mechanical strength (to aid injectability) and porous morphology of iSFH allowed the encapsulation of human recombinant insulin in its active form in diabetic rats.
Diabetes affects more than 70 million people in India, the second highest in the world. It results from inadequate insulin production due to the loss of beta cells or insulin resistance in the body, which causes glucose homeostasis to become unbalanced, leading to an abrupt rise in blood glucose levels.
The conventional and final treatment involves repeated subcutaneous insulin injections to maintain physiological glucose homeostasis. The multiple subcutaneous insulin injections are associated with pain, local tissue necrosis, infection, nerve damage, and locally concentrated insulin amyloidosis responsible for the inability to achieve physiological glucose homeostasis. This problem can be solved by controlled and sustained insulin delivery. Thus, encapsulation and sustained release of insulin in its active form (without loss of activity) is key to the development of such controlled and sustained in vivo release of insulin.
The iSFH has proven to be an effective insulin delivery device for diabetic patients with excellent mechanical strength, biocompatibility, encapsulation, storage and demonstration of the sustained release of active insulin in the diabetic animal. The active encapsulation and release of insulin by iSFH may also have implications for the future development of oral insulin formulations. The JNCASR team hopes that pharmaceutical companies will come forward and develop it further for human use.
(With inputs from PIB)