Smart insulin patch could replace painful injections for diabetes

Article on the research of smart insulin patch that could replace painful injections for diabetics.

Doctors and engineers are working together to come up with a small patch that can be applied to the skin that will inject small amounts of insulin to the patient as the blood glucose level rises. The patient will wear the patch for 9 hour intervals. It will reduce the number of injections; however, the patient will have to diligently monitor his or her blood glucose levels.


Painful? I’m not sure I can relate to that. Needles on insulin pens are so tiny, how does one create a painful injection? :slight_smile: The only things that have pained me are when I tried using bent needle sets, MM Silhouettes, and inserted MM Soft Sensors (the introducer needle was a whopper). I’ve always been in awe of anyone who can insert Silhouettes without pain. :slight_smile:

I agree completely! Needle tech has come so far that it’s among the least “painful” aspects of my diabetes. Finger pricking is worse.

Yet, we run across this issue of needle-phobia constantly. It crops up again an again as one of the top 3 reasons cited as motivation for new treatments and therapies (we had a good laugh about this “benefit” in the Afrezza threads a few months ago).

Problem is, non-diabetics are judging these things, and of course to a non-diabetic injections seem to be a very big deal. I know I was wary of it when I first started insulin, and I’ve never been needle-phobic at all.

Until you experience injecting yourself several times a day with a tiny 4mm, 33 gauge needle, you have no idea how innocuous it is. Someone who gets jabbed maybe once a year at most, often simply to have blood drawn as part of a physical, has a vry different concept of “needles” and “injections” than actual insulin-using diabetics do.

1 Like

Even an IV doesn’t bother me, as long as the person doing it knows what they are doing. Blood draws are a breeze. I seldom hurt from finger pricking, thanks to the type of picker I use. HOWEVER, when I was first diagnosed, I would break out in a sweat and take minutes to jab myself with the old syringes back in the '78. It took me a long time to get comfortable sticking myself. Not sure how I’d feel about injections as a new diabetic today, given that the pens have such small needles. Maybe they would still freak me out as a newbie?

I know. Mom’s needles are nothing compared to my RA injection needles. Those suckers were huge. And I had to do them weekly in my thigh muscle. They usually left a huge hole and bled. When I failed methotrexate injectables (affected my liver)–i gave her my syringes. Now with the infusions, I only have puny little vein that’s viable, when it goes kaput, I’ll have to have a port put in.

The very cool thing about this patch isn’t that it’s needle free. It’s that it releases insulin in response to your blood sugar level. So in theory if it really worked properly you would not need a basal and bolus insulin, just a daily patch which would release varying amounts of insulin all day long to keep your blood sugar steady.

I find this a very exciting idea, but I also wonder how well it can respond to actual blood glucose levels and how painful it might be to have something stuck on you that could get close enough to your blood to measure them.

1 Like

After reading the article I just have to wonder how they will get a patch to hold enough insulin for several days. is it going to be a new concentrated insulin in the neighborhood of U5000?

Secondly, the failed Glucowatch caused much discomfort to the skin of its wearers. I wonder how irritating the patch will be.

Jenny -

That’s what I was thinking about having the patch on for an extended period of time and how the researchers would design it so it would stay attached. Cause based on the comments about sensors and insets, they don’t stick or stay on very well due to sweat and body oils.

Also, how would the patch regulate the amount to dispense at any given time. I know just checking my BG, I get different numbers based on different fingers.

And that’s where the volunteers come in to say “this thing hurts like…” :frowning:

1 Like

It would be great but my Dexcom often thinks I’m lower than I am so if the patch also uses interstitial fluid to measure BG that may be a problem for some people.

Lilli, I noticed the article said BLOOD glucose, but I find that a little hard to believe–perhaps they meant to write,“interstitial glucose”?

Though when I was first dx’d and using disposable hypos, I had to just love the slogan on the BD syringe boxes: “For maximum injection comfort!” Um, minimum injection DIScomfort, to be perfectly accurate. I mean, I’m not offering 'em to my friends. “Try one of these–it’s really comfortable!”

1 Like

It would probably be measuring interstitial fluid. And the mechanism is that exposure to the glucose causes some kind of chemical change that frees up some insulin from the device which probably takes a bit of time.

And I would picture it sticking to you like a burr perhaps, which is where you have to wonder about irritation. Supposedly the little needly things are extremely fine, but even so.

But for people who aren’t able to understand all the complexities of constantly testing and correcting, which is a lot of people, this kind of approach could give them a lot better control than they are getting with two shots a day of 70/30, which is what a lot of doctors who don’t want to be bothered put people on who have Type 2 and really need insulin.

I have only had one inset come off due to problems with the glue- those things really stay in place for me unlike my dexcom- I put opsite flexfix over and under it.