A nasal spray has been developed that could mean an end to daily injections for sufferers of Type 1 diabetes.
The spray, successfully tested on rats, delivers insulin to the bloodstream via the nose.
Tests showed that one squirt of the spray reduced blood sugar levels in rats for around 24 hours.
When insulin was injected into the animals the traditional way, it only took just nine hours for their blood sugar levels to return to their original values.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that affects around 300,000 people in the UK and destroys insulin-making cells in the pancreas.
Without the hormone, levels of glucose in the blood can rise dangerously high. Sufferers of the disease usually have to inject themselves with insulin several times a day to keep their blood sugar under control.
The new nasal spray, developed by a British-led international team of scientists, turns into a sticky gel once it heats up to body temperature in the nose.
This helps it remain in the nose long enough to be effective. Under normal circumstances, dust and other foreign material is cleared from the nasal cavity by beating hairs called cilia.
A chemical component of the spray also makes it easier for insulin to penetrate the mucous membranes lining the nasal cavity.
The research is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Biomaterials Science.
Study leader Dr Hamde Nazar, from the University of Sunderland, said: "Our data highlights the potential of the formulation as a once-a-day dosage form for the delivery of insulin through the nasal route. However, its relative merit for the treatment of the human diabetes condition can only be assessed in the clinic."
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