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Artificial beta cells that release insulin in response to high blood sugar

Artificial beta cells that release insulin in response to high blood sugar.

Artificial beta cells that release insulin in response to high blood sugar.

A major hurdle in the patient-friendly treatment of Diabetes is the need for efficient on-demand control of blood glucose levels.  Normal pancreatic cells do this naturally, so creating an insulin delivery system has been quite a challenge for researchers.

Insulin pills end up destroyed in digestive enzymes and acids making it an unviable option.  Pancreatic cell transplants are expensive, require donors, and drugs to prevent rejection.  Over six million people in the U.S. take insulin via injection or mechanical pump, meeting timely dosing needs and cost efficiency.

The researchers over at The University of North Carolina & NC State are now testing artificial beta cells (ABC’s) that release insulin when glucose levels rise.  These artificial beta cells take the place of normal beta cells in the pancreas that cause diabetes when they malfunction.

Blood glucose levels were kept normal for up to five days in diabetic mice when injected with these artificial cells.  Plans to optimize the cells to test on larger animals and eventually on humans is in the near future.  The aim is to develop a “smart” skin patch that infuses the cells subcutaneously, for a painless, convenient, and cost effective treatment for Diabetes.
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