Insulin that Requires No Refrigeration
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15 June 2010
Boon & Bane: New Studies That Could Affect Lives Of Millions
Here’s some good news for diabetics. Scientists have created an insulin which they claim can survive warmth and doesn’t require to be kept in a fridge.
Normally, insulin starts to go bad above 4°C — making insulin supply very difficult in areas that don’t have refrigeration. Now, an international team, led by Monash University, has successfully strengthened the insulin’s chemical structure without affecting its activity and this new insulin doesn’t at all require refrigeration.
At the same time, the team’s using their new knowledge to develop a form of insulin that could be delivered by pill.
“Like milk, insulin formulations need to be kept cold. At temperatures above 4°C, insulin starts to degrade and it eventually becomes inactive. So supplying insulin in areas where fridges are scarce or difficult to maintain presents a real challenge.
“The instability of insulin is closely related to its chemical structure. Insulin is constructed from two different protein chains which are joined together by unstable disulfide bonds. Using a series of chemical reactions, we have been able to replace unstable bonds with stronger carbon-based bridges.
“This replacement does not change the natural activity of insulin, but it does appear to significantly enhance its stability. These so-called ‘dicarba insulins’ are stable at room temperature. And, storage at higher temperatures for years had not resulted in degradation or loss of activity,” said team leader Bianca van Lierop. “There’s 285 million diabetes sufferers worldwide,” she added.
According to the researchers, the new insulins may also provide much-needed insight into how the molecule works.