For patients fighting against Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), they are usually unable to produce insulin as pancreatic cells will be destroyed by the immune system. Now, some scientists in California are thinking of coming up with a medical device to help automate the process of patients with T1D checking their blood sugar levels and injection of insulin to manage the condition. They hope to achieve that by transplanting insulin-producing cells into diabetic patients who lack those cells.
Scientists in California thinking of coming up with an insulin implanting implant to fight Type 1 Diabetes
Crystal Nyitray who is the founder and CEO from Encellin, a biotechnology start-up is planning to change how Diabetes is currently being treated, by using living cells! Take note that this process is still in the experimental stage, and has not being tested on people. She claims that the method of transplanting pancreatic cells into Diabetic patients has been around for years with some success. However, the immune system will usually act against the cells which have been transplanted, and patients usually default back to insulin injection to manage their condition.
Theoretically, Crystal and her team have come up with a way to surround live islet cells from the pancreas in a malleable protective cover which can be inserted under the skin. This helps to ensure longevity with the treatment method as the membrane will reject cells from the immune system while allowing for passage for blood sugar and insulin. Therefore, common immune rejection problems can be avoided.
According to an article on NPR, Tejal Desai who is a professor of bioengineering at UCSF and Nyitray’s graduate school advisor, was initially unconvinced by the system as other researchers have tried but failed to extend the longevity of the cells in new environments. However, she was convinced after Nyitray showed that cells in devices from them actually managed to thrive. The approach has been proven to work in lab animals.
They hope to start live testing soon, and this treatment method could potentially bring major convenience to patients living with T1D. However, the human body is mysterious and lab results often vary widely from real-life implementation and observation.