A Revolutionary Hydrogel for Diabetes Treatment: Three Injections Per Year

by Henrik Andersen
Hydrogel Diabetes Treatment

Engineers from Stanford have introduced an injectable hydrogel depot system, significantly improving the administration of GLP-1 drugs for diabetes treatment. This new method requires only quarterly injections instead of the current daily regimen. Andrea Ivana d’Aquino from Stanford University provided a supporting photo for this groundbreaking development.

The frequent need for daily injections in managing Type 2 diabetes presents challenges for many patients. However, a recent innovation from Stanford’s materials engineering team could reduce this to merely three injections annually. This hydrogel technology promises to change the frequency of administering diabetes and weight control medications like Ozempic, Mounjaro, Trulicity, Victoza, and more from daily or weekly to just once every four months.

Published in “Cell Reports Medicine,” researchers anticipate that this technology will significantly enhance diabetes and weight management, increase patient adherence to medication schedules, and improve long-term health for Type 2 diabetes sufferers.

These medications mimic the effects of the GLP-1 hormone, aiding in diet management and weight control. However, the conventional daily or weekly injection schedule can be cumbersome for patients. Eric Appel, an associate professor at Stanford and the lead researcher of the new hydrogel, emphasizes that reducing the injection frequency to three times a year could greatly simplify adherence to medication regimens for those with diabetes or obesity.

Type 2 diabetes affects half a billion people globally, including 130 million in the United States alone, with treatment costs in the U.S. exceeding $400 billion annually. The recently introduced GLP-1 drugs have been hailed as breakthroughs, offering significant control over energy intake with minimal side effects.

The hydrogel’s unique property lies in its composition of nanoparticles, which gradually release the drug as the hydrogel dissolves over several months. This polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel combines fluidity for easy injection and stability for duration, gradually dispensing the medication.

In practice, a small amount of the drug-infused hydrogel is injected under the skin. Appel’s team has meticulously designed the hydrogel to be both unobtrusive and effective for the entire four-month period. This design aligns with typical patient check-up schedules.

Promising results have been observed in laboratory rats, where the hydrogel system outperformed daily injections in managing blood glucose and weight. The team has also adapted the hydrogel for various timeframes, ranging from days to six months, and sees potential for its use with other drugs and medical conditions, including Type 1 diabetes in children.

Next steps include testing in pigs, followed by potential human clinical trials within one and a half to two years. Appel is optimistic about the hydrogel’s impact on managing Type 2 diabetes and possibly other conditions.

This research, detailed in the article “Use of a biomimetic hydrogel depot technology for sustained delivery of GLP-1 receptor agonists reduces burden of diabetes management,” was supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Stanford Diabetes Research Center. Co-authors include Andrea d’Aquino, Caitlin Maikawa, Leslee T. Nguyen, and others from Stanford, along with collaborators from Novo Nordisk. Appel’s affiliations include the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and other notable Stanford institutes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hydrogel Diabetes Treatment

What is the new hydrogel technology developed by Stanford engineers?

The new hydrogel technology developed by Stanford engineers is an injectable depot system that enables GLP-1 drugs for diabetes treatment to be administered once every four months, significantly reducing the frequency from daily injections.

How does the hydrogel system improve diabetes and weight management?

The hydrogel system releases medication over several months, improving diabetes and weight management by enhancing patient adherence to medication schedules and potentially improving long-term health outcomes for those with Type 2 diabetes.

What are the benefits of the hydrogel-based GLP-1 drug delivery?

The hydrogel-based GLP-1 drug delivery system benefits patients by reducing the burden of frequent injections, simplifying medication regimens, and providing a more comfortable and convenient treatment method.

How does the hydrogel work in delivering medication?

The hydrogel is composed of nanoparticles and polymers that slowly dissolve over time, releasing the drug molecules gradually. This controlled release mechanism ensures a steady medication flow over an extended period.

What is the future potential of this hydrogel technology?

The hydrogel technology has promising potential for broader applications beyond diabetes treatment, including other drugs and medical conditions. Its adaptability for various release timeframes and effectiveness in preliminary tests suggest its significant impact on healthcare.

What are the next steps in the development of this hydrogel system?

The next steps include further testing in animal models like pigs, which closely resemble human skin and endocrine systems, followed by potential human clinical trials within the next one and a half to two years.

More about Hydrogel Diabetes Treatment

  • Stanford University’s Hydrogel Research
  • GLP-1 Drugs and Diabetes Treatment
  • Innovations in Diabetes Management
  • Hydrogel Technology in Medicine
  • Eric Appel’s Research at Stanford
  • Cell Reports Medicine Journal
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  • Stanford Diabetes Research Center

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Rick_92 December 21, 2023 - 9:52 pm

Is this really safe though? Injecting a gel that lasts for months sounds a bit scary to me…

JennyL December 21, 2023 - 10:21 pm

i read about this, it’s like science fiction becoming reality, amazing job by stanford team!

HealthGuruKaren December 22, 2023 - 5:51 am

This could be a game-changer in diabetes management. But, we need more tests to ensure it’s completely safe for long-term use.

TechFanatic December 22, 2023 - 5:47 pm

Stanford always on the cutting edge, turning what we once thought was impossible into possible, incredible work!

Mark Tylor December 22, 2023 - 7:15 pm

Wow, this is huge for diabetes patients, no more daily shots, what a relief!


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