Transforming treatment of diabetes with insulin-producing cellular implants

blood

Many people with diabetes prick their fingers several times a day to measure blood sugar levels and decide on the insulin doses they need. Implants of pancreatic cells that normally make insulin in the body— so-called islet cells—can render this cumbersome process unnecessary. Likewise, cellular implants could transform treatment of other disorders, including cancer, heart failure, hemophilia, glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease. But cellular implants have a major drawback: recipients must take immunosuppressants indefinitely to prevent rejection by the immune system.

[I]n 2016 a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a way to make implants invisible to the immune system. After producing and screening hundreds of materials, the researchers settled on a chemically altered version of a gel called alginate, which has a long history of safe use in the body. When they implanted islet cells encapsulated in this gel into diabetic mice, the cells immediately produced insulin in response to changing blood sugar levels—keeping them under control over the course of a six-month study.

Related article:  Alzheimer’s trial seeks to harness the body's immune system

ADVERTISEMENT

Today the cells being incorporated into capsules are drawn from animals or human cadavers or are derived from human stem cells. One day implantable cell therapies may include a broader array of cell types, including some engineered through synthetic biology—which reprograms a cell’s genetics to make it perform novel functions, such as controlled, on-demand release of specified drug molecules into a tissue.

Read full, original post: Implantable Drug-Making Cells

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend