Microneedle-array patches loaded with hypoxia-sensitive vesicles provide fast glucose-responsive insulin delivery
A glucose-responsive "closed-loop" insulin delivery system mimicking the function of pancreatic cells has tremendous potential to improve quality of life and health in diabetics. Here, we report a novel glucose-responsive insulin delivery device using a painless microneedle-array patch ("smart insulin patch") containing glucose-responsive vesicles (GRVs; with an average diameter of 118 nm), which are loaded with insulin and glucose oxidase (GOx) enzyme. The GRVs are self-assembled from hypoxia-sensitive hyaluronic acid (HS-HA) conjugated with 2-nitroimidazole (NI), a hydrophobic component that can be converted to hydrophilic 2-aminoimidazoles through bioreduction under hypoxic conditions. The local hypoxic microenvironment caused by the enzymatic oxidation of glucose in the hyperglycemic state promotes the reduction of HS-HA, which rapidly triggers the dissociation of vesicles and subsequent release of insulin. The smart insulin patch effectively regulated the blood glucose in a mouse model of chemically induced type 1 diabetes. The described work is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of a synthetic glucose-responsive device using a hypoxia trigger for regulation of insulin release. The faster responsiveness of this approach holds promise in avoiding hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia if translated for human therapy.