Home Blood Sugar Management The injection system reacts when blood sugar levels drop

The injection system reacts when blood sugar levels drop

by Laurel Oldach
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Although managing diabetes has become easier over the years, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can still feel like walking a tightrope. Over time, high blood sugar can cause medical problems, so many diabetics rely on the hormone insulin to reduce circulating glucose. However, using too much insulin can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to life-threatening emergencies. The best treatment at such moments is glucagon, a hormone that counteracts insulin and releases stored sugar.

At ACS Spring 2024 on Tuesday, University of Notre Dame professor Matthew Weber described his research into designing highly responsive injectable materials that retain glucagon and release it when ambient glucose concentrations drop. . Many research groups, including his, are developing materials that release insulin in response to sugar spikes. But creating a material that responds to the absence rather than the presence of molecules is “a bit of a paradigm shift” for the field, Weber said.

In a presentation to the Department of Biochemical Technology, Weber described three chemistries that researchers in his lab, led by graduate student Shihan Yu, have invented to sequester glucagon drugs into responsive hydrogels and coacervates. explained the approach.

Researchers are testing the material on diabetic animals. They observed that each could reduce the dip in blood sugar levels experienced by the animals. However, this material also has some problems, including a slow response time and a tendency for glucagon to leak out when it is not needed, potentially causing unwanted hyperglycemia.

Kaylin Ernest, a medicinal chemist at the University of Cincinnati Clermont who attended the talk, told C&EN that although the material is not yet ready for practical use, it is an exciting advance. A sugar deficiency is technically more difficult to detect and respond to than an excess, but it’s also more urgent for patients, she said. She said, “You can fall from a high, but it’s hard to recover from a low.”

Professor Weber hopes to work on developing a combined system that can release both insulin and glucagon on demand, much like the pancreas does in non-diabetics.

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