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‘Smart' Insulin To Help Maintain Type-One Diabetes

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Posted at 4:15 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 17:06:26-04

IVANHOE - Imagine how tough it is for new parents to find out their baby has diabetes and then have to learn as they go how to regulate blood sugar and dose insulin. A mistake could bring coma or death. Now researchers are developing smart insulin eliminating guesswork and more.

Seven-year-old Foster Dunstan was diagnosed with type-one diabetes as a baby.

"It was overwhelming,” said Tricia Dunstan.

His mom, Tricia, balances foster's food, blood sugar monitoring, and insulin doses.

"It took me about a year and a half to start to feel ok with the daily routine,” said Dunstan. “I felt that I went from meal to snack to meal to snack."

Now, Foster tests his own blood sugar eight to 12 times a day and injects insulin if he needs it.

Biochemist Danny Chou at the University of Utah is developing an injectable "smart" insulin to reduce the work and the guesswork of diabetics like Foster.

A glucose sensor is attached to an insulin molecule. If blood sugar is good, The insulin is dormant. When blood sugar rises, the sensor turns on the insulin molecule.

"Because of the binding, you will generate a chemical modification and we use that modification to design a switch that can control the activity of the insulin,” Dr. Chou said.

Tricia said for her and Foster, "smart" insulin would make life immeasurably easier.

"We'd like to see it as soon as possible, of course I would've like to see it yesterday,” she said.

The Dunstans will have to wait a little while to get their hands on the smart insulin. It'll be three to five years before it gets to human clinical trials, then it's up to the FDA to approve it for market.