Diabetes is no longer as challenging as it was. At least that is what the scientists have uncovered through their latest research. Managing diabetes Type-1 is no child’s play while it affects children too. The cure usually includes taking insulin injections that are painful, tiresome, and in often cases complicated. A group of students and professors at MIT are thrilled to share the news.
Overcoming The Challenges Of Islet Cell Implants
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that often prompts the cells in the pancreas to destroy itself. Being the producer of Insulin, the pancreas is no longer able to produce healthy islets which ultimately results in a sugar imbalance. More than often it presents no symptoms and injecting it physically was the only solution up until now.
Discoveries have made it possible for doctors to develop beta cell implants carrying insulin to be placed surgically into the body. The islet implants would be derived from a donor which is similar to harvesting organs. This however came with a catch.
As soon as the implant was completed the oxygen flow to the islet would stop abruptly causing the patient to go through another bout of the session. It brought little relief for it was hardly different from the injections prompting the scientists to look for a more lasting solution.
Though in its testing phase, they have been able to uncover significant strides when it comes to the novel islets containing a multitude of insulin cells and with their oxygen setup as well. This prevents a diabetic from undergoing the continuous cycle of inserting insulin cells and therefore hampering their regular life.
The device has a seemingly easy working structure. As the implant finds its place in the liver, it takes only 14 days to establish a connection between blood vessels and the new beta cells.
Once it is formed, the implant triggers the release of insulin whenever it detects any shortage without prompt. Since it is an automatic process, the host doesn’t need to worry about their regular dosages. However, when most were implanted in mice, it was seen that the effectiveness existed for only two weeks which is the bare minimum considering the severity of the disease.
The new implants come with a self-oxygenated system that doesn’t hamper their working and can last up to 2 months. Scientists claim that the newer implants would have the ability to use the water vapor in our body to attain oxygen and sustain for a long period. When tested on a group of mice, the results supported this claim which makes the discovery quite plausible.
Though the impact of this on diabetic treatment is vast it is still to go through big animal and human trials. Now that the initial phase didn’t disappoint them, they are looking for ways to increase the capacity of the device. Furthermore, they are making donor transplants from cadavers which have shown longer life compared to the ones from the living. It is like “a living device” opines one scientist who leads the study.
Their foremost concern is still to find a way to prevent diabetes or maybe cure it permanently meanwhile the possibility of managing it should not be rejected completely. The implants still raise a concern about the fact that the receiver has to be on immunosuppressants all their life. Albeit not ideal, it is an improvement from the insulin injections that are administered hourly.
In the next phase of the trial, they also aim to curb the destruction of Beta cells with a proton exchange membrane that has oxygen and protects every Insulin cell from the immune system altogether. Every day, the medical field is a step closer to making diabetes extinct.
As they say, prevention is better than cure and those genetically indisposed can maybe include exercise and proper diet in their schedule. Taking regular checkups and following up with tests can also help one manage the symptoms healthily.
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