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A cell therapy technology is being developed to deliver insulin and monitor glucose levels in type 1 diabetes patients.The technology may replace the islet cells in the pancreas that are dysfunctional or destroyed in people with type 1 diabetes.The device resembles a patch that contains donor human pancreatic islet cells designed to detect blood sugar levels and secrete insulin if needed.These islet cells are contained in two sealed layers of thin nanoporous material.The main advantage of the new technology is it will provide the benefits of islet cells without the need for islet transplant or immunosuppressants.
"All of the features that we try to recapitulate in medicine are trying to understand what cells do.I was trying to find a way to help cells do what they do better," said Dr.Crystal Nyitray, CEO and founder of Encellin.
The long-term goal of the technology is to eliminate the need for supplemental insulin, organ transplants, and a lifetime dependence on immunosuppressant medications, according to Nyitray.
The Islets of Langerhans or commonly known as islets cells are clusters of cells that contain 3000 to 4000 cells per islet.There are one million islets in healthy adult pancreas, according to scientists.These make up one or two percent of the entire organ.
There are several cell types inside every islet and they work to regulate blood sugar or glucose.One of the cell types found in an islet is the beta cell that can sense sugar in the blood and release insulin to maintain blood sugar levels.However, the immune system sometimes mistakes beta cells as dangerous to the body and destroys them.The destruction of beta cells caused by immune system leads to type 1 diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, the body cannot produce insulin because beta cells were destroyed by the immune system.But the majority of the pancreas still work to provide digestive enzymes.
Type 1 Diabetes
When the body breaks down starches and sugars from food, it becomes glucose, a simple sugar form.The body will need insulin to get glucose from the bloodstream and deliver it to cells for energy use.However, people with type 1 diabetes cannot do this and this leads to increased blood sugar levels in the blood.Other causes of the disease include genetics and some viruses.
Symptoms of diabetes 1 include frequent urination, increased thirst, bed-wetting in children who did not wet the bed before, extreme hunger, weight loss, mood changes, and fatigue.There are several complications to the major organs of the body if type 1 diabetes is left unmanaged.
- Disease of the heart and blood vessels: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of several cardiovascular problems, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure.
- Damage to the nerves: Elevated blood sugar levels in the blood can damage nerves.Nerve damage or neuropathy manifests with symptoms like tingling, numbness, and a burning sensation or pain in the tips of the fingers or toes.If the blood sugar is too high in a particular area, that part of the body will eventually lose the sense of touch.
- Eye damage: Excess sugar can damage the blood vessels of the retina, causing expect vision problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.
- Kidney damage: High amounts of blood sugar can damage the millions of blood vessels in the kidneys.Damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys ruins the waste filtration system of the body.
- Foot damage: In addition to the loss of sensation, high blood sugar can cause other complications on feet.Any cuts, blisters or wounds can become seriously infected that may lead to amputation.
- Skin and mouth issues: The skin and mouth of diabetics are vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections, gum disease, and dry mouth.
- Pregnancy complications: Excessive blood sugar can expose both the mother and the baby to complications such as the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
Type 1 diabetes has no prevention method, and the only treatment for the disease is to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Pancreatic islet transplantation is a procedure in which islet cells from another person's pancreas are transferred to a diabetic patient.The new islet cells will produce insulin in the receiver to maintain glucose levels.There are two types of islet transplantations that can be performed based on the criteria of the patient and the donor.
1.Allo-transplantation involves the purifying, processing, and transferring of the pancreas of a deceased organ donor to the receiver.It is usually performed in certain patients with type 1 diabetes.
2.Auto-transplantation involves the total removal of the whole pancreas in patients with chronic and severe or long-lasting pancreatitis.The surgeon purifies the islets from the organ and infuses it back to the patient's liver through a catheter.The intention is to give the body enough healthy islets to make insulin.This procedure is not performed in patients with type 1 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes because it usually starts in young people.
- Only five percent of people with diabetes have this type of the disease.
- About 80 percent of transplanted islets die within one week after the transplant operation.