An implant can now control pancreatic insulin levels without the need for constant injections.
Patients with Type I diabetes have a poorly functioning pancreas that doesn’t produce enough insulin to metabolize blood glucose. Constant injections are necessary for millions suffering from the disease. But now, researchers at Cornell University, have developed an implantable device that contains live stem cell-derived pancreatic cells that will generate insulin just like a healthy pancreas.
Implant: What It Does
Researchers bound thousands of live pancreas cells to a polymer thread.
The pancreatic cells are coated by the hydrogel in order to prevent the immune system from attacking them. The thread is completely surrounded by the hydrogel, closing any gaps that can lead to the formation of scar tissue.
This technology has already been tried in mice and dogs. In mice, it was tested for glucose control, demonstrating the ability to get it to normal levels in diabetic mice within only two days. The thread is expected to be useful for many months, potentially up to two years. In dogs, the thread was implanted to see how easy it is to remove it, and the research has shown that it typically doesn’t adhere to nearby tissues, making it easy to be extracted.
There’s of course more work to be done, particularly initial testing in humans and larger studies, but the technology looks incredibly promising and exciting for patients and clinicians.