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Fibroin-based Hydrogel for Insulin

  • 16 May 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), have developed an injectable silk fibroin-based hydrogel (or iSFH) for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients.

  • JNCASR is an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology.

Key Points

  • Diabetes:
    • It results from inadequate production of insulin due to loss of beta cells (found in pancreas, make insulin) or insulin resistance within the body.
      • Insulin helps glucose from food get into cells to be used for energy.
    • The inadequate production of insulin does not convert glucose into energy which leads to an abrupt increase of blood glucose level.
    • India is home to more than 70 million diabetes people, it is the second-highest in the world after China.
  • Treatment:
    • The conventional and last resort of treatment involves repeated subcutaneous insulin injections to maintain the physiological glucose balance.
      • Subcutaneous means under the skin.
  • Issues in Treatment:
    • The multiple subcutaneous insulin injections are associated with pain, local tissue necrosis (death of tissues), infection, nerve damage, and locally concentrated insulin amyloidosis responsible for inability to achieve physiological glucose balance.
      • Amyloidosis is a phenomenon that occurs when an abnormal protein, called amyloid, builds up in organs and interferes with their normal function.
  • One of the Solutions: Controlled and sustained insulin delivery.
  • iSFH: The injectable Silk Fibroin Hydrogel (iSFH) can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients.
    • The iSFH has successfully delivered active insulin in rats.
    • The subcutaneous injection of insulin with-iSFH in diabetic rats formed an active depot under the skin from which insulin trickled out slowly and restored the physiological glucose balance for a prolonged period of 4 days.
    • The porous form of iSFH allowed the encapsulation of recombinant insulin (identical to human insulin) in its active form in diabetic rats.
    • It has proved to be an effective insulin delivery tool with excellent mechanical strength, biocompatibility, encapsulation, storage, and demonstration of its sustained delivery of active insulin in the diabetic animal.
    • The active encapsulation and delivery of insulin by iSFH may also have implications for the future development of formulations for oral insulin delivery.

Silk Fibroin

  • Silk fibroins are the unique proteins of silkworm fibers.
  • Researchers have found fibroin as the promising resources of biotechnology and biomedical materials.
  • They have unique properties which include biocompatibility (i.e. compatible with living tissue), favorable oxygen permeability, and biodegradability.
  • The degradation product also can be readily absorbed by the body with minimal inflammatory reaction.


  • A hydrogel is a three-dimensional network of hydrophilic polymers that can swell in water and hold a large amount of water while maintaining the structure due to chemical or physical cross-linking of individual polymer chains.

Source: PIB

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