Now, a new form of insulin that can be inhaled!

The new drug, Afrezza, which is awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, works faster, keeps blood sugar levels at a closer to normal level, and has less risk of causing low sugar levels than the currently available insulin jabs, say the scientists.

"Afrezza uses a novel technology called Technosphere. It's inhaled as a dry powder that dissolves in the lungs. The particles then pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and begin acting almost immediately. Afrezza's action peaks about 12 to 15 minutes after inhalation.

"Most importantly, the drug is absorbed ultra-rapidly so it becomes effective much more quickly than an injection of the same drug.
"For some drugs, ultra-rapid systemic delivery provides distinct clinical advantages over injection including profiles that match the body's natural responses in processes like hormone secretion," Andrea Leone-Bay, who led a team at MannKind Corporation, the drug's manufacturer, said.

In 2006, the first inhaled insulin, Exubera, received FDA approval. However, the drug was pulled from the market in October 2007 by its manufacturer, Pfizer, because of concerns. One study found a reduction in lung function for some, but of more concern was an increased risk of lung cancer.

Leone-Bay said that cancer studies have been conducted on Afrezza in rats. "The rodents got a much higher inhalation dose than humans would take, and the researchers didn't find an increase in lung cancer. These types of studies weren't done on Exubera," she said.

However, experts welcomed Afrezza with caution.
"They have done the required safety studies and come out clean, but it's only been tested for six months, so long- term isn't known," said Sanjoy Dutta, Director of the insulin initiative at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Dutta confirmed that Afrezza is fast-acting and less likely to cause low blood sugar. "Just as quickly as it has an onset of action, it also has a quick off mechanism. It doesn't stay around long enough to cause hypoglycemia," he was quoted by the media as saying.

The findings were presented recently at the American Chemical Society National Meeting held in California. PTI MOT

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