Revolutionary Chocolate Insulin Could Replace Needles For Diabetes Treatment

There could soon be a less painful — and tasty — way to treat diabetes. Scientists from the University of Tromso in Norway have discovered a new form of insulin that patients can ingest orally, possibly even inside chocolate. The innovative approach offers an alternative to daily injections using needles or insulin pumps for the approximately 425 million people worldwide living with diabetes. The key to this new method lies in tiny nano-carriers, each 1/10,000th the width of a human hair, which encapsulate the insulin. This way of taking insulin is more precise because it delivers the insulin rapidly to the areas of the body that need it most. When insulin is taken with a syringe, it's spread throughout the body, where it can cause unwanted side effects. Scientists overcame a major hurdle in oral insulin delivery: the breakdown of insulin in the stomach before reaching its destination in the body. They developed a special coating to protect the insulin through the digestive system, ensuring its safe arrival in the liver. It avoids the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that's common with injections, as the insulin release is controlled based on blood sugar levels. So far, the oral insulin has been successfully tested on mice, rats, and baboons. In the National Baboon Colony in Australia, insulin was incorporated into sugar-free chocolate, which the baboons readily consumed, leading to a reduction in their blood sugar levels, with no hypoglycemia or weight gain. Human trials are set to begin in 2025.