Smart insulin patch could ‘revolutionize’ care for diabetes patients

Researchers have developed a smart patch for insulin delivery, publishing their findings in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The patch, which is roughly the size of a quarter, was designed to work for 24 hours before it needs to be replaced. It monitors glucose and can instantly deliver insulin when needed using tiny microneedles.  

“Our main goal is to enhance health and improve the quality of life for people who have diabetes,” corresponding author Zhen Gu, a professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, said in a prepared statement. “This smart patch takes away the need to constantly check one’s blood sugar and then inject insulin if and when it’s needed. It’s mimicking the regulatory function of the pancreas, but in a way that’s easy to use.”

The team’s study involved mice and pigs and “may aid the development of other translational stimuli-responsive microneedle patches for drug delivery.” Human clinical trials may begin “within a few years,” but FDA approval will be required before they can occur.

“It has always been a dream to achieve insulin-delivery in a smart and convenient manner,” co-author John Buse, MD, PhD, director of the Diabetes Center and the Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, said in the same statement. “This smart insulin patch, if proven safe and effective in human trials, would revolutionize the patient experience of diabetes-care.”