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Painless prescription.

Cringe at the thought of getting a shot? Many people with the disease diabetes suffer through several shots a day. But a new drug could provide an alternative to the painful injections.

The drug, called Exubera, is a powdered form of the hormone insulin, a chemical that breaks down sugars from food to fuel the body's cells. Without insulin, dangerous levels of sugar build in the bloodstream.

People with diabetes are at risk because their bodies don't produce enough insulin or no longer use it properly. Normally, these people replace missing insulin by injecting it into their bloodstream. But fear of daily injections may keep some from taking the medicine, says Jay Skyler, a doctor who studies diabetes at the University of Miami.

Exubera's pain-free solution? A person could simply breathe in insulin using a device that works like a large asthma inhaler The insulin is then absorbed by the lungs and shuttled into the bloodstream.

This fall, a scientific panel recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve the use of Exubera by adults. Scientists hope that the drug will also be approved for kids soon. That's good news: Besides being ouchless, the inhaler is easy to use: "All you have to do is breathe," says Skyler.
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Title Annotation:Exubera
Author:Crane, Cody
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 12, 2005
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