MEDICINE: Breakthrough for diabetics

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The Independent Online
A revolutionary way of taking medicines could allow diabetics to throw away their needles, scientists disclosed yesterday.

The method involves swallowing plastic "microspheres" - less than one- 10,000th of a millimetre across - containing minute droplets of the drugs, including DNA and insulin.

The biologically degradable capsules stick to the walls of the small intestine and pass through them, between the cells, to deliver the medicine into the bloodstream.

Scientists in the United States have been testing the technique on rats, with encouraging results. They wrote in the journal Nature that if the system can be transferred to humans it could allow delicate drugs normally damaged by the digestive system to be passed quickly from the mouth to the blood circulation.