Volume 93, Issue 38

Friday, November 5, 1999


Bill could target panhandling

Fresh air for diabetic research

Elgin Hall officially opens with ceremony

Deputy registrar waves goodbye

A healthy way of life - sort of

Food grease and oil may fuel cars of the future


Buzz Mecca

Caught on campus

Fresh air for diabetic research

By Heather Buchan
Gazette Writer

Diabetics are breathing a sigh of relief, with the possibility of throwing away their needles coming closer to reality.

Jesse Zhu, a chemical and biochemical engineering professor at Western, said he developed a new technique in the field of pulminary drug delivery, which, when completed, would allow diabetics to administer drugs through the lungs rather than the stomach. He said if the technique works, the drugs would be taken in powder form through an inhaler.

"Administering drugs through injection is very ineffective because the drugs go straight to the digestive system," Zhu said. "The drug then reacts with the acid in one's stomach and is exterted."

Zhu said an inhaler delivers the drug directly to the lungs so it can be diffused into the blood stream. As a result, powdered drugs are 100 per cent effective.

Although the research could possibly lead to the production of powdered insulin, pharmacology professor Michael Rieder said the novelty of the researsh was the potential use of inhalers.

"There is a huge attraction to inhalers, if you have the unfortunate problem of sticking yourself with a needle a couple of times a day," Rieder said. "Hopefully, in 10 years all diabetics will be getting medication through a puffer."

Jeff Poston, executive director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said this technology will bring many new innovations in the next millenium.

"Dr. Zhu's development is part of the contemporary scene of innovative drug administration. Drugs themselves will change with gene therapy," Poston said.

Diabetes Canada spokesperson Keri Selkirk said she was pleased to hear about Zhu's reasearch. "Six to seven percent of Canadians are diabetic. Not everyone needs insulin, but those who do usually require a minimum of one injection a day. Sometimes people require up to three or four injections a day."

Zhu said the next phase of his research is to create a dispensing apparatus. He said the powdered drug will be refined into pellets the size of a pencil tip, so as to prevent the powder from sticking in the throat while being inhaled.

The research finishes in 16 months and the inhalers could be on the market in the next few years, he added.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999