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New Inhaled Insulin Shows Promise for Diabetes
Date:3/23/2010

Afrezza works faster, appears to have fewer side effects than predecessor,,

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new form of inhaled insulin appears to help people with diabetes who must use insulin, with fewer potential risks than an earlier form of inhaled insulin that is no longer on the market.

The new drug, Afrezza, which is awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, works faster, keeps blood sugar levels at a closer to normal level and has less risk of causing low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) than currently available injectable insulins, researchers say. It also appears to have less risk of causing lung problems than its inhaled predecessor, Exubera.

"Afrezza is an ultra-rapid-acting insulin, and clinical studies have shown us that it has the potential to change diabetes therapy, because in the body, Afrezza looks like the insulin that's normally in a person's body," said Andrea Leone-Bay, vice president of pharmaceutical development for MannKind Corp., manufacturer of Afreeza.

"Afrezza differs a lot from Exubera," she said, both in the way it's made and in the way it works.

Afrezza uses a novel technology called Technosphere, according to Leone-Bay. It's inhaled as a dry powder that dissolves in the lungs. The particles then pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and begin acting almost immediately. Afrezza's action peaks about 12 to 15 minutes after inhalation, instead of the 45 to 60 minutes it takes for Exubera to peak, she said.

That fast action helps to keep after-meal blood sugar levels lower, which is a goal for people with diabetes. And Afrezza is less likely to cause hypoglycemia, a common problem that occurs when insulin levels are higher than required for a meal.

The idea of an inhaled insulin appeals to diabetics who must use insulin every time they eat. Currently, the only way to get that insulin is through injection or an insulin pum
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