Diabetes is a serious chronic disease and has become a global concern, affecting 8.5 percent of the adult population in the world. In India alone, the number of people suffering from it is estimated to be around 70 million.
Global incidence of all types of diabetes is about 285 million people, of which 90 percent have type-2 diabetes.
According to the researchers at National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) in the US: "Many require insulin therapy that is usually given by injection just under the skin in amounts that are calculated according to the deficit in naturally generated insulin in the blood. Insulin therapy is not managed well in half of all cases.
Therefore, the researchers have developed a pain-free skin patch that contains dissolvable compounds to respond to blood chemistry and manage glucose levels automatically.
The new study shows that the biochemical formula of mineralised compounds present in the patch responds to sugar levels for days at a time.
The study, performed on mice, showed that the biochemically-formulated patch of dissolvable microneedles helped manage type-2 diabetes with considerable ease.
"This experimental approach could be a way to take advantage of the fact that persons with Type-2 diabetes can still produce some insulin," said Richard Leapman of National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of National Institutes of Health (NIH), US.
"A weekly microneedle patch application would also be less complicated and painful than routines that require frequent blood testing," Leapman added.
The base of the patch is a material known as alginate — a gum-like natural substance extracted from brown algae. The material is then mixed with therapeutic agents and is then poured into a microneedle form to make the patch.
"Alginate is a pliable material — it is soft, but not too soft," said lead researcher Xiaoyuan (Shawn) Chen of NIBIB.
"It has to be able to poke the dermis, and while not a commonly used material for needles, it seems to work pretty well in this case," Chen added.
The study was published online in the journal Nature Communications.