New smart patch for diabetes could replace daily insulin shots

Almost one million Australians are suffering from diabetes type 1 and advanced type 2, and have to endure painful daily insulin

Almost one million Australians are suffering from diabetes type 1 and advanced type 2, and have to endure painful daily insulin shots that are necessary to survive.

Now, those uncomfortable jabs could be a thing of the past if a newly developed “smart patch” is rolled out. The small, thin square (around the size of a 5c piece) can detect blood sugar levels and release insulin if and when needed. It operates with over 100 microneedles that have microscopic storage units for insulin and glucose-sensing enzymes.

The goal for scientists is to develop the insulin patch to a point where patients would only have to change it every few days.

400 million people around the world suffer from diabetes and this tiny patch could truly improve so many lives.

According to co-senior author Zhen Gu, a professor in the Joint University of North Carolina and NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering, “We have designed a patch for diabetes that works fast, is easy to use, and is made from nontoxic, biocompatible materials.

“The whole system can be personalised to account for a diabetic’s weight and sensitivity to insulin, so we could make the smart patch even smarter”.

The current process that diabetes sufferers endure could lead to “injecting the wrong amount of medication [leading] to significant complications like blindness and limb amputations, or even more disastrous consequences such as diabetic comas and death”, said study co-senior author Doctor John Buse.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the new painless patch was able to lower blood glucose in a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes for up to nine hours.

Human tests and trials will be require but there is great promise in the preliminary trials so far. This patch could be a game changer for managing blood glucose levels, which would significantly help millions of people with diabetes.


Tell us, what do you think of this development? Do you know someone who suffers from diabetes? Would this benefit them?

  1. Get rid of insulin shot altogether by switching to a Low Carb Medium Protein High Fat diet. And bankrupt big pharma companies in the process as well. 🙂

    • I would be interested in learning more. Due to go onto insulin shots soon if levels cannot be stabilized.

    • Karl Koch Please google LCHF and management of diabetes – type 1, 2, 3 (dementia, when the brain becomes insulin resistant).

    • Oh yes, sadly! Your idea would be good for pre diabetics. I believe it was following the standard food pyramid with its concentration on grains that kicked me into full blown diabetes. Once your pancreas stops producing insulin, no diet will help it!

    • Until you become insulin resistant, become overweight, develop metabolic syndrome, cardio vascular disease, degeneration of the central nervous system.

    • Are you a medical researcher Nguyen? Better minds than yours disagree with you

    • Insulin is required to keep your blood glucose low. The LCHF diet lowers the blood glucose, so obviates the need for insulin. A strict ketogenic diet (zero to low carb) lower the blood glucose to a point where cancer cells are starved of the only fuel they can metabolise, glucose. So yes diet is a freaking BIG deal for healthy living all around. LCHF condition your body to burn fat for energy, instead of glucose.

    • Insulin is part of the process that enables your cells to absorb glucose and use it for energy instead of it just going to fat, which is of course a very simplified statement. If your system is not producing insulin, and you don’t take it you will die.

    • I wished it was that easy with the diet for my son. Type 1 Diabetics DIE without INSULIN. Please get yr facts right. I am sick and tired of NON Medical people thinking they know it all.

    • You seem so full of yourself, perhaps you need to look outside of the square, so what one person gets a Nobel prize, do you not think diabetics look at alternative therapy, definitely get sick of people thinking they know it all but most have no experience of living with it. Go and preach to those who want to listen to your nonsense,

    • Marlene Baker With the exception of the red blood cells and the retina, all cells are capable of metabolising ketone for energy. Cancer cells can ONLY metabolise glucose by fermentation. That is the Warburg effect. Insulin drives excess blood glucose – when the glycogen stores in thew liver and muscles are full – into fatty tissues and locks it there. So if we keep ingesting excessive amount of carbs that get digested into glucose every day, you need the insulin to remove the excess from the blood.

    • I don’t give a flying f**k what Otto won, if your body can’t produce insulin you need to get it somehow. Diet will help in some respects, but it won’t make your body produce insulin. Do you really think in this day and age peope would still be jabbing themselves multiple times a day if diet cured them? You should be locked up for making these statements, some-one could die if they believe your bullshit

    • Thank you Alan for yr words. Type 2 is so totally different from Type 1. I am angry people who think they know it all don’t understand the stress of a mother with a baby having Type 1.

    • I am not a diabetic, however I am very attached to many who come in here..and PLEASE. listen to the advice of your doctor..I would hate to lose any of you 💖

    • Lynne Highfield  

      No amount of changing diets will make a difference if you’re a Type 1 diabetic. There is nothing currently available to use except shots of insulin if you don’t want to suffer Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is life-threatening.

  2. My son is Type 1 Diabetic since aged 3. Yes this will be brilliant if and when it comes on the market. They also have introduced another clever way in patch form with a sensor to test BSL. This is not cheap at present around $250. 00 per month – my son is living in London and only a few days ago he saw his amazing Specialist who gave him the run down on all this great new technology. 24 years of blood testing and insulin injections not fun. One day we are praying for a cure.

  3. Where do you get painful shots daily, I don’t even feel them, I have the pen with size 8 apparently the finest but no problem.

    • I use size 6. No pain at all. Changed from 8 down to 6 on advice from a chemist also injecting. Best move..!!

  4. If these had been around 10 years ago my son would still be alive. What a wonderful break-through

    • Thanks Deborah. One insulin shot when he didn’t need it was all it took, the current system is good but not infallible

    • That’s always my fear Sue, Cameron my son is a very healthy switched on kid. But after 24 years still no closer to a cure.

    • David’s glucose meter was stolen, he had no idea what his levels were and gave himself insulin. Make sure your son has meters everywhere and make sure he uses them. He’ll be fine

    • Thank u Sue, Cameron has the latest BSL Meters. He is so far away that worries me, he is returning home in May next year thank god. Cam is a Science Teacher keeps so up to date on every thing. He was also diagnosed with Addisons Disease 5 years ago, so now I Hv that extra worry. Us mums will never stop worrying ever😃

    • Sue, I am so sorry, that breaks my heart reading this. My 11yo daughter has been Type 1 since she was 3. I worry so much. All the time.
      I’m so sorry for your loss xx

    • Thanks Anna. I had no idea your daughter was diabetic. I didn’t post my comment with the intention of worrying anyone, what happened to David was a series of events that led to his death. Most diabetics live to a ripe old age, this was a freak situation

    • It sure is Libbi, but hopefully it can make life a bit easier for other. David was 18 when he was diagnosed, I can’t imagine having to explain to small children why they need all these needles. It would be heartbreaking for a parent

  5. Would be great especially for the young people that have to cope with this disease

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