Friday, October 7, 2011

Veterinary Highlights: Insulin Delivery Patches for Dogs

An Australian molecular biologist, Dr. Esra Ogru, has teamed up with a Swiss-based Novartis Animal Health to perfect insulin delivery patches for dogs.

These patches will deliver an insulin gel through dog's skin. 

The technology is based on research into targetted penetration matrix (TPM) technology, which allows the delivery of drugs though the skin.

No more needles! 

Wouldn't that be a wonderful news for owners of diabetic dogs? (And I'm sure the dogs would appreciate it too. As much as Jasmine loves vets and is willing to put with a lot she does hate needles)

Unlike injections, the patch would deliver constant dose of insulin over a period of time.

I think it's a wonderful and exciting idea but two questions come to my mind.

  • It seems that insulin is quite sensitive and needs to be stored very carefully to maintain potency. It needs to be stored in a refrigerator (but never in the freezer). Will the insulin in the patch maintain its potency?
  • In a healthy dog, insulin enters the bloodstream after a meal when the glucose levels are the highest. Is a continuous constant dose going to control the glucose spikes after meals?

I know, I always have a why or how question to everything.

Overall though, sounds like a great idea to me. What do you think?

Original article:
Diabetic pets escape the insulin needle 


  1. I have the same questions as you. My dog was just diagnosed with diabetes in July. She's very stoic about her injections but if I stick her the wrong way I have accidentally hurt her (she cringes and whimpers). So a patch would be wonderful.

    Another possible issue is days the dogs refuse to eat. With injections you can modulate the dose based on how much they ate or their blood glucose readings. With a patch this won't be possible OR won't be as easy. I know some medicated patches you can cut in half and apply but some you can't.

  2. It does not sound like it can account for when the dog choosing not to eat in the rip the patch off? And insulin is in fragile poly-peptids. You can't even shake the bottle because they will break apart and become useless. I think a PLO gel might be a better idea....but then if it absorbs into your skin, it would be a bad thing.
    At least with the patch, if they got it off and chewed it up, the insulin would not have an effect.

  3. OMG what a fantastic idea! My JRT Bazil (RIP) was Diabetic and endured shots twice a day plus blood sugar testing 6 times a day. Near the end, we had trouble finding spots on her body that weren't ravaged with scar tissue to gve the injection. My other JRT Farfalle isn't diabetic (knock on wood) but if he were, we'd never e able to give him the insulin. He just isn't a cooperative dog. I've worried about this every day as he has Cushings disease so is at an increased risk for diabetes. These patches would be perfect!

  4. Melissa, our vet actually uses some local topical anesthetic when using needle on Jasmine. It makes her much happier and more relaxed about it. Whatever works, right?

    Yes, a needle can hurt sometimes.

    Another good point - if dog doesn't eat...

    I'm sure (well, I'm hoping) they are asking themselves the same questions and will come up with solutions. Because it does sound like a good idea :-)

  5. Hi Kate, yes, the sensitivity of the insulin was my other concern. Seems they originally developed the idea for pain medications, where these issues aren't a problem.

    I'm hoping they come up with all the answers needed to make this work.

  6. Hi VW, I think the idea is fantastic. If they can make it work it would be awesome. Here is to hoping they do.

  7. Hi everyone,
    The company phosphagenics are actually developing a gel not a patch, for the reasons mentioned about problems with fur and and animals biting or scratching off the patch.
    Probably a metered dose of gel rubbed in will do the trick.
    Much better than needles.
    The next step will be to develop it for humans !

  8. Thank you for your comment, gel does make more sense, doesn't it? Yes, definitely better than needles, as long as the things some of which I mentioned get worked out.

  9. You raise some good points, however rest assured that the scientists involved from both Phosphagenics and Novartis are top level. It's been in development for years and every facet of insulin control would be taken into consideration. The testing procedures are very strict both for the safety of the animals as well as the reputations of the companies involved.
    It's all very exciting, but some water still to pass under the bridge yet.
    We'll be keeping our fingers and paws crossed.

  10. I'm sure they are [the scientists involved top level]. I just didn't see this mentioned anywhere so I asked those questions out loud.

    I do agree it's very exciting, that's why I included it in my Veterinary Highlights column :-)

    Do you have some more detailed information about this particular research? Would love to include it if you do.