An insulin pill which does away with the need for daily injections for diabetics could be on the market within a few years.
A capsule developed with the help of a Nobel award winning scientist has become the first oral insulin treatment to reach phase three trials.
This is the last stage before a drug can get a licence for use in patients.
The secret to delivering insulin in tablet form is considered “the holy grail of diabetes research”, because hundreds of thousands of sufferers are currently forced to inject themselves to keep the condition under control.
Now the pill form of insulin could be just a couple of years away.
Previous attempts had been unsuccessful because the pills were easily destroyed by various digestive juices in the mouth, stomach and intestines.
But experts from Israel and the US have found a way to deliver insulin to the body through the gut.
They have developed a special coating to protect the pill in the stomach and mouth together with an “acid neutralising” chemical that is released once the pill hits the intestines.
The insulin is then absorbed into the bloodstream directly leading to the liver which is one of the main organs whose malfunctioning contributes to diabetes.
With injections the insulin takes a more roundabout route through the blood stream making blood sugar levels difficult to control for some diabetics.
Jerusalem drug firm Oramed, hope that by intervening early some of the many - and sometimes deadly - complications of diabetes could be averted.