Almost 35 million people in the U.S.—more than one person in every 10—and more than 500 million worldwide, live with diabetes, the body’s inability to properly process sugar in the blood. 

As diabetes has become epidemic in the developed world, most of us have learned that people with the condition must take daily injections of insulin, often before every meal, and obsessively pay attention to their diet.

Now researchers at the University of British Columbia have made a breakthrough in their quest to replace those shots with an oral insulin dose.

Testing a drinkable insulin, the group found that the insulin sat in the stomach and didn’t reach the liver, the ideal place for insulin to gather to process sugars.

When they tried a tablet that’s not swallowed but held between the cheek and gum, they discovered that the thin membrane behind the lips and lining the inner cheek absorbs the insulin and sends it straight to the liver.

The tablet dissolves in about 30 minutes and its insulin keeps working in the liver for two to four hours, they found.

TRENDPOST: Insulin in a pill would change the lives of people with diabetes, who now are tethered to their packs of syringes and vials of insulin, which have to be kept refrigerated.

A month’s supply of insulin averages anywhere from $300 to $1,000, much of which is covered by insurance plans, which spreads the cost among all of us. The pills will be cheaper to make, will keep at room temperature, and do away with the expense of bottles and syringes, and the environmental headache of piles of used syringes accumulating in medical waste dumps.

No less important, diabetes and its demands on sufferers can cause depression and otherwise damage the mental health of those afflicted. The pill could lift those clouds as well.

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