Currently, millions of people need injections insulin to reduce their sugar levels in blood, due to diabetes. However, it is difficult to manage insulin to the body orally because it is a protein that is easily destroyed in the stomach.
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Although researchers are developing pills that resist digestion in the stomach and patches on the skin that control the sugar in the blood and release insulin automatically, the most reliable way to deliver insulin currently is through injections frequent.
My colleagues and I study the systems of drug administration. Researching new innovative ways to introduce medicines in the body can improve response and compliance to treatments by patients. A simpler way to administer insulin would be music for the ears of many people with diabetesespecially those who don’t like needles.
In a recent study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinologyresearchers engineered cells to release insulin in response to specific sound waves: music from the band Queen. Although there is still a long way to go, this new system could one day replace injection of insulin for a dose of Rock And Roll.
Combining cellular engineering with Queen
The bioengineering professor Martin Fussenegger from ETH Zurich, a university in Basel, Switzerland, led a study recent study that used a mechanosensitive ion channel as a remote control to signal cells that produce insulin in response to specific sound waves.
Are “insulin releasing cells controlled by MUSIC” (MUSIC is short for cell control inducible by music) were grown in the laboratory together with speakers. His team tested a variety of musical genres of different intensities and speeds.
Between the songs that they touched were songs pop like “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, “We Will Rock You” by Queen and “Hotel California” by the Eagles; classical pieces such as “Für Elise” by Beethoven and “Alla Turca” by Mozart; and themes of films like “Live To Rise” by Soundgarden, which appeared in “The Avengers,” a movie from Marvel.
They discovered that pop music with low bass and the soundtracks of films were more capable of triggering insulin release compared to the classical musicand that the cells could release insulin within minutes of exposure to the song.
In particular, they discovered that the song of Queen “We Will Rock You” more closely mimicked the release rate of insulin in normal pancreatic beta cells.
The team then implanted insulin controlled by MUSIC in diabetic mice. Listen to the queen song for 15 minutes once a day returned the amount of insulin in the blood at normal levels. The sugar levels blood also returned to normal. In contrast, mice that were not exposed to the song remained hyperglycemic.
Could music produce insulin in people?
Despite these promising results, much more research is needed before this approach can be used. musical to produce insulin can be considered for human use.
One concern is the possibility of producing too much insulin, which can also cause health problems. Fussenegger’s study found that talking and background noises, such as the noise of airplanes, lawnmowers, or fire trucks, did not activate the insulin production in mice. The music It also had to be played near the abdomen, where the music-controlled insulin-releasing cells were implanted.
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In an email, Fussenegger explained that extensive clinical trials to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the technique and determine how long cellular implants can last. As with the introduction of any foreign material into the body, tissue rejection is also a concern.
Cellular engineering could one day provide a much-needed alternative to the frequent insulin injections for millions of people with diabetes Worldwide. In the future, different types of cells could be engineered to release other drugs into the body more conveniently.
* Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University.