Editorials

UNC-CH, NCSU create insulin patch and hope for those with diabetes

The ‘smart insulin patch’ is the size of a dime.
The ‘smart insulin patch’ is the size of a dime. UNC

In just 20 years, it’s expected that there may be nearly 600 million people in the world dealing with diabetes. Research and development being conducted by scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University may one day make life easier for them.

The team, whose efforts have drawn praise nationwide, is working on an insulin patch, which would respond to high levels of blood sugar by secreting the right amount of insulin. The diabetes sufferer wouldn’t have to prick a finger or use a syringe or pump to deliver the insulin.

Managing the disease is a chore, particularly for younger patients but for all who have to keep up with blood sugar levels. Because of the difficulty, some diabetics neglect monitoring their levels and suffer serious health consequences from high blood pressure, stroke and neuropathy. Those who ignore their disease long-term risk shortening their lives.

The patch hasn’t been tested in humans, but more tests on animals will continue, and eventually clinical testing will be done. Developments such as these take years to enter the marketplace, but this one clearly is significant.

It again points to the cutting-edge, life-changing research going on in area universities – and, yes, the need for more investment in that research. Remarkable things are happening on area campuses, and the cooperative research has been and will continue to be productive for humankind.

Said one scientist from the University of California Santa Barbara: “It addresses a tremendous unmet need in the field of diabetes management.”

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