This past week, a press release announced positive results from a mouse-research study of a new insulin one that adapts to the ambient blood glucose level (BGL) to keep the BGL stable. The press release calls this new insulin "Glucose-Responsive Insulin" although it's floating around in the bloodstream, it apparently is activated only when needed, when BGLs are too high. The report, Glucose-responsive insulin activity by covalent modification with aliphatic phenylboronic acid conjugates, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An abstract is available there, and concludes "The described work is to our knowledge the first demonstration of a glucose-binding modified insulin molecule with glucose-responsive activity verified in vivo."
In an era where there are self-driving automobiles, and pilotless mini-airplanes, it's not too surprising to hear of self-activating insulin. But, of course, it's a very long way from mouse research to routine use in people with diabetes. (Which didn't stop the authors of the press release from inserting a breathless comment from another researcher: "It would be a breathtaking advance in diabetes treatment if [this] technology could accomplish the translation of this idea into a routine treatment of diabetes".)
I agree. If indeed this initial report is substantiated in further study, and eventually succeeds in human trials, and then becomes part of routine care of PWD, it should be the second Nobel prize for insulin.