Dr Mary Abraham from the Telethon Kids Institute and Perth Children’s Hospital has secured $60,000 from our 2022 Diabetes Research Grants program to launch a pilot study into the use of oral insulin in type 1 diabetes – a medication intervention that could be a game-changer for those with the chronic condition.

Oral insulin had so far predominantly been tested in those with type 2 diabetes while insulin injections or insulin pump therapy are the cornerstone of type 1 diabetes treatment but still, most people remain unable to achieve optimal blood glucose levels, so there’s a very real need to improve on treatment.

Oral insulin has enormous benefits of being a non-invasive form of insulin and offers the hope of reducing the risk of blood sugar levels falling dangerously low in people with diabetes, and it may also help to minimise weight gain that can be an issue with subcutaneous insulin because it causes high insulin levels in the body. It is also believed oral insulin may reduce the long-term risk of diabetes-related vascular complications, as well as possibly restore beta cell function.

This 12-week study aimed to see if oral insulin could be used alongside injected insulin. The success of oral insulin has so far been limited due to absorption issues. This trial of an improved oral drug delivery system has been designed to overcome this challenge. If it can be used to reduce the amount of insulin that needs to be injected by people with type 1 diabetes or mean they require less total insulin, this would be a very welcome breakthrough.