The Future of Insulin Injections: Going High-Tech

The TheraFuse System

Feb 1, 2002

The Diabetes Technology Meeting also highlighted research into new methods of insulin delivery, including a "pumpless" insulin infusion device and the use of controlled-release microchips.

Patch-Like Programmable Insulin Infusion

The approach taken by TheraFuse, Inc., of San Diego, California, focuses on a new concept in insulin infusion, according to an abstract presented at the meeting. Instead of using an insulin pump with a keypad for input, TheraFuse has developed a patch-like programmable insulin infusion system that receives its input via speech recognition. Also key to this new device is the fact that it is "pumpless"— that is, it does not use any of the "rotating electrical machinery" found in other pump devices. The design of the TheraFuse system promotes lower cost and less waste because, according to its developers, key components don't need to be replaced.

Controlled-Release Microchips

John Santini Jr., PhD, president and chief scientific officer of MicroChips, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, described the company's latest research with silicon-based, controlled-release microchips.

These microchips can be used to accurately dispense medicine to the body or to deliver chemicals for use in diagnostics and biosensor applications. The microchips "contain an array of up to several hundred micro-reservoirs, each covered by a thin membrane of an electrically erodable material." These reservoirs, adds Santini, can be filled with and store multiple drugs or other chemicals until release is desired.

"Our drug delivery microchips may have the potential to deliver insulin to the body in a controlled way once more highly concentrated forms of insulin are developed," he explains.

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