Brandi Klingerman | November 25, 2016
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has an inability to produce enough insulin. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the illness affects nearly 30 million diagnosed and undiagnosed people, and treatment often includes patients using an intravenous or IV method to get insulin into their system. This uncomfortable and inconvenient form of treatment can require anywhere from two to four injections a day, but a Notre Dame researcher is working to combat this problem with a less frequent, oral delivery system.
Haifeng Gao, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry as well as an affiliated member of ND Energy and NDnano, is working at the newly opened McCourtney Hall to engineer soft nanomaterials and develop a polymer, or substance that has a molecular structure consisting of mostly large numbers of similar units bonded together, that could potentially carry insulin throughout the body. For the polymer to work, it would need to survive the harsh environment of the stomach, control the encapsulation of the insulin, and program the release of medication in a way that is as effective as current treatment methods. To do all of these things, Gao’s goal is to develop a unimolecular polymer carrier with multiple domains and functional groups, which utilizes several components that can work synergistically.
Read more here.