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The Abstract

Gu Receives Funding for Glucose-Responsive Smart Insulin Patches

Zhen Gu

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Brent Lancaster, a writer for NC State’s College of Engineering. The post first ran on the College of Engineering site.

People with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) have to monitor their blood sugar levels every day and take calculated doses of insulin based on food intake, exercise, stress, illness and other factors or they may fall victim to health complications. Zhen Gu will receive a portion of $4.6 million in research funding to develop glucose responsive insulin patches in order to help those suffering from T1D and relieve some of the burden it places on them.

Gu is an assistant professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University and has previously worked on a smart insulin patch that would act as an alternative to painful insulin injections. These patches were designed as a thin square about the size of a penny and covered with more than a hundred tiny needles, each about the size of an eyelash. The needles were packed with microscopic storage units for insulin and glucose-sensing moiety and would activate when blood sugar levels got too high.

Gu is one of four researchers receiving funding in support of development of glucose responsive insulin (GRI) therapies for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes. The funding is part of a joint research collaboration between JDRF and Sanofi.

JDRF (long known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is the leading global organization funding and advocating for type 1 diabetes research, and Sanofi US Services Inc., a subsidiary of Sanofi, is one of the leading insulin manufacturers and a global pharmaceutical company.

While the research was only used on mice at the time, Gu and his team were able to successfully show that the patch could detect increases in blood sugar levels and activate whenever necessary. With the research funding from the JDRF and Safoni, Gu may eventually be able to move on to human trials.

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  1. I live in Japan. My son has type 1 diabetes. Insulin injections cause severe hypoglycemia. I’m very anxious every day. Save your son from severe hypoglycemia with an insulin patch. Please help me.

  2. I just needed to update my contact information. I would like to be available for clinical trials for the new insulin patch.
    new email:
    phone: 919-790-7830
    location: Raleigh

  3. This type of wonderfully creative research, funded by JDRF, reinforces my resolve to continue walking in their annual Walk for the Cure and raising money as I’ve done annually since 1990 when I was diagnosed with T1D as an adult. Dr. Gu, your research gives hope to me on behalf of all of us who would benefit from your initiatives , including my grown son who was just diagnosed at the same age I was when I was diagnosed with T1D (35). I hope this works in people someday soon!

  4. On behalf of my wife and son, who are both T1D, I want to thank you, Dr. Gu, and wish you Godspeed in getting your prodect to market.

  5. Dr Gu, we all wait in anticipation…although not a cure, but a massive improvement in daily management for all us T1D. Myself still on MDI for 28ys and my beautiful son diagnosed recently. The burden medically, emotionally, physically and mentally is 24/7. This would be so very welcome in all T1D world’s. Will keep looking for updates
    From Australia

    1. Dr. Gu we are waiting your great success here in egypt .I have my grand daughter 3 yrs
      having recently DT1 .So lets hope and pray god to help you and your team to
      reach a fruitful end for all T1D patients.
      From Egypt

  6. Dr. Gu your research sounds fascinating and very helpful to those of us with T1D. I will be happy to take part of the clinical trials when this phase is available.

  7. Dr. Gu, both my daughter and I have been living with T1D for almost 19 and 17 years respectively. I am currently on the Board of Directors for the JDRF Eastern Chapter here in Raleigh and would be very eager to discuss further with you. We are very excited about your research and its benefits for the T1D community. We would be more than willing to volunteer for human clinical trials.

  8. My daughter is 11 years and halh old ,we are living in doha and she was diagnosed 1 month agoin in paris with type one diabetes, and I want to sign in for human trials as soon as they are available

  9. Hi my name is Sam Rowley and I desperately need this insulin patch. I am willing to volunteer for this and pay my way down to the university to do this.

  10. Dear Professor Gu,
    I am very interested in the patch you are developing. I am T1D and have been for an exhaustive 47 years! I started injections at age 11. Now, at age 58, I am exhausted.
    I have complained about my fatigue for decades. I currently wear a pump which reduces the number of injections, but helps the A1C minimally.
    I want to avail myself for trials and, I am very accessible because I live in N. Raleigh!

  11. I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 45 years – I had endured 4 to 5 insulin shots a day for many, many years, and still unable to keep my blood sugar at good levels. Then 5 years ago I got my first insulin pump and it changed my life, I am in great control with an A1C averaging between 5.7 – 6.2. I will be following this research on the insulin patches, it sounds amazing. If you are looking for volunteers in the Boston area, please let me know. It sounds absolutely fascinating

  12. Hello, I’m willing to volunteer for the new insulin patches when it arrives in Australia

  13. My son, Jonathan, has type 1 Diabetes as well as autism, Hashimoto’s and Alopecia. Success with this would be such a stress reliever for him! You are in my prayers. We’d be delighted to participate in an clinical trials as well. We live in Tennessee. We are neighbors! 😀

  14. My 9 year old son has been newly diagnosed 3 weeks ago and it would be great to know when this product is available or when you estimate the time it would take for it to be approved this is a medical breakthrough and would hopefully eliminate having constant monitoring of your glucose levels when the smart insulin does it for you.
    Zubair from Preston UK

  15. My son is 11 years old, he was diagnosed with type one 4 months ago and I will love to know how to sign in for human trials as soon as they are available.

    Thanks so much
    Belen Hyland

  16. I have been type 1 diabetic for 44 years. I am eagerly following the progress of this research. Sounds incredible!

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s amazing you have successfully battled the disease for so many years. I wish you well, my prayers are with you.

      1. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 64 years and the hardest part isn’t taking insulin or doing blood tests but trying to locate legal NEEDLE-FREE INSULIN INJECTORS like the Vision Medi-jector in the US.

  17. I wish all the best to prof gu, I am eagerly waiting for this product to hit the market. God bless u, your work will touch milions of lives! My child takes pains to get daily insulin shots..wish we could be part of human trial….from india