Could This Implant Point to the End of Injections?

Every day, many people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have to subject themselves to multiple insulin injections and finger prick tests. This process is essential to a diabetic's health, but that doesn't mean the constant injections aren't uncomfortable. In fact, some people with diabetes suffer long term complications such as nerve damage due to their testing and insulin injections.

But now, a team of researchers at ETH university in Basel, Switzerland may have found another, less prickly solution.

And Insulin Implant?

This team of scientists, lead by Professor Martin Fussenegger, conducted an experiment in which artificial cells were implanted under the skin of diabetic mice. These cells were pulled from a human kidney and then grown in a lab with the purpose of releasing insulin into the bloodstream.

These cells took to the mice bodies and immediately went to work just as pancreatic cells would; they measured glucose concentration in the blood and released insulin to correct for high blood sugar levels. Surprisingly, the cells were still healthy and functioning three weeks into the experiment – proving that they, in the words of Professor Fussenegger, “worked better and for longer than any solution achieved anywhere in the world so far”.

What Does This Mean?

This research is still in the early stages. Cells have not yet been tested on human subjects, and they will have to undergo a gamut of clinical trials before human testing can even begin. However, Fussenegger is optimistic that this discovery could mean the end of regular injections for diabetes patients.

"That’s why research like this is so important," he says, "[We are] finding ways to produce an unlimited supply of pancreatic cells, or cells that act like them, in the lab."

He hopes that in time, these cell implants will be longer lasting and incredibly effective. They may only need replacing three times each year, and as for when they'll be available? “If our cells clear all the hurdles,” Fussenegger says, “they could reach the market in 10 years.”

Source: Express UK

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