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Goodbye Injections? Inhalable Insulin Shows Promise As A Treatment For Diabetes

Update Date: Jan 12, 2017 08:30 PM EST

For over eight decades, liquid insulin has saved the lives of millions of people from the negative effects of diabetes. However, scientists have been struggling to find another way to deliver insulin into the body without needles. Now, a newly developed inhalable insulin could pave way for treating diabetes without pain.

It was in 2006 when San Francisco-based Nektar Therapeutics developed Exubera, the first inhaled insulin product. It used to be a mealtime insulin but the patients who need basal insulin need to combine it with the use of a long-acting, injectable insulin.

In February 2015, a new formulation of inhaled insulin dubbed as Afrezza has hit the market. Manufactured by MannKind Corp., the inhalable insulin uses a unique combination of molecules that micro-encapsulate the fragile insulin, protecting it until it gets into the lungs where it's release into the bloodstream, CBS News reports.

The Promise Of Afrezza

Afrezza inhaler came into the market in early 2015. The dosing cartridges are color-coded so the patients and doctors could easily recognize the dosages needed. It's also disposable and meant to be replaced every two weeks.

"We're actually delivering insulin monomers (molecules). Nobody ever did that before... It behaves much like normal pancreatic insulin does. Normal people don't get hypoglycemia, and people (with type 2 diabetes) taking Afrezza don't either, even if they dose and don't eat," Alfred Mann, founder of MannKind Corp., said as reported by Healthline.

The insulin peaks within 12 to 15 minutes and circulates into the system within an hour compared to current fast-acting insulins that would take at least 20 minutes to take effect and peaks at 2 to 3 hours. The patients who have tried the inhalable insulin are happy about the drug. Some patients also said they get better blood sugar control when using Afrezza since they hated the use of needles. For most diabetics, they need to inject themselves with insulin for several times a day.

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