Insulin...Getting Better All the Time

Medical Author: Ruchi Mathur, M.D.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Insulin. Many patients dread the thought of taking it. It requires injection into the body and must be monitored diligently. To some, insulin can represent having to accept an unwanted disease.

We've come a long way in treating diabetes and tailoring insulin to suit a patient's specific needs. We have insulins that peak at different times (to allow for precision and flexibility) and we have refined delivery systems to include the insulin pump. Recently, much research has focused on the development of inhaled insulin.

Inhaled insulin is a powerful form of insulin that is delivered through the lungs. Initially, investigators have had trouble with effectiveness and concerns about possible lung damage. Last month, a group of scientists from the University of Vermont presented data at the American Thoracic Society meeting. They studied 140 patients over a 24 month period and looked at blood sugar control and lung function. While the study is ongoing, they found that inhaled insulin appears to maintain control of blood sugars without adverse effects on the lungs.