Coming soon: An oral pill to treat diabetes?

Coming soon: An oral pill to treat diabetes?

An international team, led by Curtin University in Australia, which is developing the new tablet, claims the pill allow diabetics to get their daily insulin substitute and avoid needles.

Over the past 10 years, lead scientist Prof Erik Helmerhorst and his colleagues looked at millions of compounds on pharmaceutical databases to try to emulate the molecular map of insulin.

"On a computer, in silico, we searched three million compound structures for their ability to fit that map," he said. In short, they found one, and are developing it as part of their dream to "take the needle out of diabetes".

"Our innovation is the development of a new chemical entity, a small drug molecule we have discovered and developed, that can be taken orally as a tablet to replace insulin per se," said Prof Helmerhorst.

The research has the ability to revolutionise the treatment of diabetes, which is a growing worldwide problem.

Professor Helmerhorst said there was a niche market for their drug molecule to target Type 2 diabetics to help delay to the onset of insulin dependency.

"The reality is that nearly one-third of Type 2 diabetics will end up needing insulin therapy at some stage," he said, adding that the insulin substitute would appeal to people who were averse to taking insulin via injections or by pumps.

"We've had a lot of interest already, including a Chinese and UK group interested in the technology," Prof Helmerhorst said.