Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on November 08, 2011

In what may open a new avenue of treatment for diabetes, scientists are developing a pill that can help people better control their disease.

According to experts, the oral treatment has the potential to help diabetics to get their daily dose of insulin without the need for daily injections.

Over a period of 10 years, Australian scientists examined three million compounds on pharmaceutical databases to try and imitate the molecular map of insulin.

They discovered one and are now developing it into an oral pill to be taken at meal times.

Lead scientist, Professor Erik Helmerhorst, from Curtin’s School of Biomedical Sciences stated, “On a computer, in silico, we searched three million compound structures for their ability to fit that map.”

Explaining further, he said, “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.”

What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic (lifelong) disease marked by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is the most common form of diabetes.

The disease occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to properly regulate glucose levels.

Having too much glucose in the blood can have serious consequences such as damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease and stroke.

Common symptoms of the disease include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and frequent urination. Exercise, weight control, and adherence to a healthy meal plan can help control the disease.

There is need to constantly monitor glucose level by prescribed medicines or taking insulin shots.

Professor Helmerhorst stated, "The reality is that nearly one-third of Type 2 diabetics will end up needing insulin therapy at some stage.”

Seeking investors
Helmerhorst presented the team’s discovery at the Univation 2011 conference in Perth. They are now at on look out for sponsors and financial backing to turn their technology into a reality.

Helmerhorst stated, “We’ve had a lot of interest already, including a Chinese and UK group interested in the technology.

“Just today, I’ve had two or three people come up to me and say they’d like to speak to us further.”

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