Simple Warming Device Speeds Up the Delivery of Insulin into the Bloodstream

When people with type 1 diabetes eat, their blood sugar levels spike almost immediately. The hormone insulin, on the other hand, takes 90 to 120 minutes before it is absorbed into the bloodstream and starts lowering glucose levels, leaving a long window of “lag-time” during which glucose levels can remain dangerously high. JDRF-funded researchers at Yale University now show that a simple device that warms the site of the insulin injection, called the InsuPatch, speeds up delivery and results in faster-acting insulin.

“This shorter period of time between infusion or injection and action means that people with type 1 diabetes will have less time during which their glucose and insulin levels are out of sync,” says Eda Cengiz, M.D., the principal investigator of the study. “That means tighter glucose control, and potentially fewer complications that result from the disease.”

The InsuPatch, a product developed by InsuLine Medical, a company based in Israel, is designed to warm the skin and locally increase blood flow at the site where insulin is infused via an insulin pump. The increased blood flow, it is thought, ensures that insulin injected directly underneath the skin is quickly absorbed and delivered to the rest of the body.

In their work, Dr. Cengiz and her team recruited 13 participants, ages 12 to 18 and each with an insulin pump, for two study visits: during one of the visits, the participants wore the InsuPatch device; during the other, they did not wear it. The data show that when the participants used the InsuPatch, not only was insulin delivered more quickly, but also there were higher peak concentrations sooner than what was seen when the participants did not use the device.

Although the InsuPatch is currently designed for use with insulin pumps and future closed-loop artificial pancreas systems, another form of the patch will be designed for those who self-administer insulin injections, says Dr. Cengiz.

“Our subjects are very excited about these results, and we were also happy to see tremendous interest in this study at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in June,” says Dr. Cengiz. “Eventually, we would like to see the InsuPatch fully integrated into an artificial pancreas so that we can have one integrated system working optimally to beat this disease. That would really mean the world to our patients.”