Fast-acting insulin drugs transforming diabetes treatment

New ‘fast-acting’ insulin drugs, used to treat millions of diabetics worldwide and which generate billions in sales annually, stem directly from work carried out in laboratories at the University of York.


Diabetes is a chronic disease that is becoming a growing burden in both developed and developing countries. Type 1 diabetes requires a daily dose of the hormone insulin to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.

Research at the world-class York Structural Biology Laboratory (YSBL) led to the development of fast-acting insulin. Launched in 1999, these drugs mean diabetes patients need only administer one daily intravenous injection and are now the standard treatment for Type 1 diabetes for 35 million patients worldwide.

YSBL’s extensive collaborative research with Novo-Nordisk, the Danish multinational pharmaceutical company, saw combined sales of the insulin drugs totalling over $6 billion in 2012 alone. Insights from YSBL’s research are also expected to impact on the design of further forms of insulin in years to come. This includes the prospect of insulin that can be taken orally, which could transform diabetes care once again.

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