Experimental oral pills auto-release insulin when glucose levels are high was reported by Michael Irving for NewAtlas.com/medical, 7 April 2021.  

Researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi have developed a system that can do just that. The team created what they call gastro-resistant imine-linked-covalent organic framework nanoparticles (nCOFs). These capsules load insulin between nanosheets that protect it from the harsh environment of the stomach, then make their way into the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier.

Once the nCOFs are in the blood, they can automatically monitor the patient’s insulin levels and only release the drug when it’s needed. The mechanism behind that is rather clever – glucose is a small molecule that can fit through the pores in the nCOF, so as levels of it rise it will be forced inside the nanoparticles, where it physically dislodges the insulin contained inside. That also works the other way, so the insulin release slows as blood glucose levels fall again.

“Our work overcomes insulin oral delivery barriers by using insulin-loaded nCOF nanoparticles which exhibit insulin protection in the stomach as well as a glucose-responsive release,” says Farah Benyettou, lead author of the study. “This technology responds quickly to an elevation in blood sugar, but would promptly shut off to prevent insulin overdose and will dramatically improve the well-being of diabetic patients.”  In tests in diabetic rats, the team showed that nCOFs brought the animals’ blood glucose levels back to normal within two hours of swallowing the nanoparticles.

Other oral insulin delivery methods are in development, with two, Oramed and HDV-I, having been approved by the FDA already, while others take a more unique route with microneedles that directly inject insulin into the intestinal wall. But the team says that the new nCOF system has a few advantages. Not only does the insulin successfully survive the journey through the gastrointestinal tract, but it’s the first that can be triggered by hyperglycemia. Plus, the nanoparticles themselves have a high capacity for insulin, of around 65 weight-percent.

Of course, further work will be needed to investigate whether the benefits carry across to humans. But it’s a promising development nonetheless. The research was published in the journal Chemical Science.

Read more:  Experimental oral pills auto-release insulin when glucose levels are high

Do you know about Connected in Motion? Who are they and what do they do?  As a Registered Canadian Charitable Organization since 2012, they are people with Type 1 diabetes who share a vision: to create a culture of support & engagement in diabetes self-management through peer-based experiential diabetes education, sport, and outdoor adventure.  They offer:

  • Slipstream:  A Slipstream Weekend is an active, social and educational weekend for adults living with Type 1 diabetes. But that explanation sounds so formal… What it really is… is a weekend jam-packed full of outdoor adventure, engaging workshops, great food and incredible people. It’s a chance to connect with like-minded Type 1s, get out and try something new and learn from each others’ experiences.  Simply put, this is diabetes camp for adults!
  • Special Topics in Type 1 Diabetes: The Connected in Motion team surveyed the community to find out the topics and themes that were top of mind as we launched into 2021. This is what we’ve learned from you and what we’ll be focusing on addressing in the year to come.
  • Virtual Slipstream:  Our Virtual Slipstreams are a chance to bring more community members together, break down barriers to access, and create connections that help to make life with Type 1 diabetes a little bit easier.  Virtual Slipstreams are a chance to connect with experts, share with peers, and build connections that will help make life with diabetes just a little bit easier. You’ll have the chance to pick and choose sessions that speak to you and meet you where you’re at in your diabetes journey. Whether you want to sit back and hear webinars from experts, or connect with like-minded community members and tackle specific diabetes-related issues, Virtual Slipstreams are built to help the community grow.

Read more:  Connected in Motion

And another:  Beta Cell Foundation, “sharing the experience of living with Type 1 diabetes through community with:

  • Community Events: Our calendar allows anyone to list their free T1D events. 
  • Meetup Groups:  A list of virtual and in-person meetup groups that provide advocacy, education, and community.
  • Diabetes Resources: Our community created wikis tackle managing type 1 diabetes, accessing insulin and devices, and objectively covering advocacy topics.

Find out more:  Beta Cell Foundation

And just to get your heart racing: Vertex CEO Kewalramani collects $9.1M in 2020 pay, less than her biopharma peers, as reported by Eric Sagonowsky for FiercePharma.com, 9 April 2021.  

Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani took the helm last April as one of a few women leading a drugmaker. Now, her pay package has gone public—and it’s smaller than the compensation collected by her peers. She nabbed $9.11 million for 2020, about half of what her predecessor, Jeffrey Leiden, made his final year in the CEO job.  Kewalramani’s 2020 salary came in at just under $1.1 million, while her stock awards totaled $5.25 million, a new proxy filing shows. She picked up a $2.72 million cash bonus and collected perks and miscellaneous compensation worth $40,000. In total, her $9.11 million pay package was about half of the final-year pay for Vertex’s former CEO—and current executive chairman—Jeffrey Leiden. During his last full year as Vertex’s CEO, Leiden scored a pay package worth nearly $18.8 million. 

As a reminder, Vertex bought Semma Therapeutics, which was started by Dr. Doug Melton at Harvard, and is well-funded by JDRF T1D Fund.  I don’t know … but somehow this bothers me.  Is it any wonder our medications and tech cost US so much money?  

Just a little bit more salt in the wound: While Kewalramani’s pay package doesn’t cover a full year of her being CEO, it significantly trails the pay of most of her Big Biotech and Big Pharma peers. The only other woman CEO in the group, GlaxoSmithKline’s Emma Walmsley, also collected a pay package lower than her male counterparts. Last year, Walmsley’s pay fell to about $9.7 million. That compares with other Big Pharma CEO pay packages ranging from $11.6 million for Novartis’ Vas Narasimhan to nearly $30 million for Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky. Gilead has reported 2020 CEO compensation for CEO, Dan O’Day, who scored a $19 million pay package last year. 

Read more:  Vertex CEO Kewalramani collects $9.1M in 2020 pay

Verizon jumps into virtual care market with BlueJeans Telehealth by Heather Landi for FierceHealthcare.com, 5 April 2021.  

Following its acquisition of video conferencing platform BlueJeans last year, Verizon has built out a telehealth platform for providers. Many hospitals and health clinics have adopted video conferencing services during the pandemic for providing patient care. BlueJeans Telehealth, which launched Monday, was designed from the ground up for healthcare organizations to simplify the virtual experience and offer greater access to care, Verizon executives said in a press release.

“While the use of telemedicine has been steadily growing for some time now, the pandemic has accelerated telehealth adoption and changed the conversation around what patient care will look like moving forward,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, in a statement.

Verizon is looking to get a slice of the rapidly growing market. Pre-COVID-19, the total annual revenues of U.S. telehealth players were an estimated $3 billion, with the largest vendors focused on virtual urgent care.  

Telehealth is now poised to take a bigger share of the healthcare market as consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates that up to $250 billion, or 20% of all Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial outpatient, office and home health spend could be done virtually.

Read more:  Verizon jumps into virtual care market with BlueJeans Telehealth

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