February 22, 2024

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Stanford’s Hydrogel System: Diabetes Injections Reduced to 3 Times a Year

Stanford’s Hydrogel System: Diabetes Injections Reduced to 3 Times a Year



Stanford’s Hydrogel System: Diabetes Injections Reduced to 3 Times a Year

Engineers at Stanford University have developed an injectable hydrogel storage technology that reduces the daily injection frequency for diabetes treatment to just three times a year.

This technology, based on a water-based hydrogel, allows GLP-1 drugs to be administered every four months, as opposed to daily injections.

The single-injection hydrogel product significantly decreases the frequency of treatment interventions, improving patients’ quality of life and reducing complications associated with diabetes treatment.

Stanford's Hydrogel System: Diabetes Injections Reduced to 3 Times a Year

In a new study published on November 21 in Cell Reports Medicine, Stanford University materials engineers introduced a novel hydrogel drug delivery system. This system transforms diabetes and weight control medications, such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, Trulicity, Victoza, typically injected daily or weekly, into a once-every-four-months injection. Researchers believe that this system will greatly enhance diabetes and weight management, enhance medication compliance among patients, and help improve the long-term health of type 2 diabetes patients.

These drugs function by simulating the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). However, the burden of daily or weekly injections is a challenge for many patients, despite the benefits of these drugs in controlling diet and weight.

Eric Appel, Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University and the lead researcher of the novel hydrogel, stated, “Adherence to treatment is one of the biggest challenges in managing type 2 diabetes. Needing only three injections a year makes it much easier for patients with diabetes or obesity to adhere to medication.”

Globally, 500 million people suffer from type 2 diabetes, with 130 million in the United States alone. The estimated annual treatment cost in the U.S. is as high as $400 billion. GLP-1 drugs, recently hailed as “miracle drugs,” have minimal side effects and effectively control energy intake by increasing satiety, reducing hunger, and addressing other reward-related dietary effects.

The key to this new hydrogel lies in the unique physical properties of its core nanoparticles. While hydrogels, commonly found in items like contact lenses, are not new, these specifically designed hydrogels resist tearing and maintain their shape. The polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel, as it’s technically called, has just the right fluidity for easy injection with a regular needle. Its gel-like stability lasts long enough in the body to sustain a continuous release of medication for four months. GLP-1 drug molecules are embedded in the hydrogel, slowly releasing as the hydrogel dissolves over time.

Appel explained, “Our hydrogel melts away over the course of months, much like a sugar cube dissolving in water, molecule by molecule. I like to say that this hydrogel is like a molecular magic trick—it holds together, but can be pulled apart very easily.”

This innovative hydrogel has been tested successfully on laboratory mice, demonstrating improved blood sugar and weight management compared to daily injections of a major commercial drug. While designed specifically for a four-month GLP-1 regimen, the research team has successfully adjusted the release time range from a few days to six months. The system has been applied to other proteins, vaccines, and even cell therapies, with evidence suggesting that GLP-1 drugs may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. All signs point to the potential application of this drug delivery system for other medications and conditions, including promising results in children with type 1 diabetes.

The next step involves testing on pigs, as their skin and endocrine systems closely resemble those of humans. If these trials proceed as planned, human clinical trials could be seen within one and a half to two years.

Appel concluded, “At the very least, we’ve paved the way for extending the release time of GLP-1-based anti-diabetes and anti-obesity therapeutic drugs, which could have a beneficial impact on the treatment of type 2 diabetes and possibly other diseases.”

Stanford’s Hydrogel System: Diabetes Injections Reduced to 3 Times a Year

(source:internet, reference only)


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