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Fighting diabetes: Artificial pancreas can produce insulin


Breakthrough in diabetes research: artificial pancreas produces insulin

Millions of people worldwide suffer from type 1 diabetes, in Germany there are around 400,000. Affected people have to inject insulin regularly because their body no longer produces this hormone itself. But researchers in Dresden have now succeeded in using an artificial pancreas in the animal model that independently produces insulin. This may also help people in the future.

Measure blood sugar levels and calculate insulin dose

In Germany alone, around 400,000 people suffer from type 1 diabetes. In these patients, the pancreas stops producing insulin. Affected people therefore have to repeatedly measure the blood sugar level and calculate how much insulin they have to administer. A few years ago, German scientists reported that they had achieved their first successes on the way to a vaccine to protect against type 1 diabetes, but much more research was needed. Now a message from Saxony gives hope: Researchers in Dresden have succeeded in using an artificial pancreas in the animal model that independently produces insulin.

Artificial organ with pig cells

According to a report by the "Sächsische Zeitung" (SZ-Online), scientists at the Technical University (TU) Dresden have succeeded for the first time worldwide in implanting rhesus monkeys into an artificial organ with pig cells.

According to the information, the five-centimeter device in the monkey replaces the insulin-producing pancreas.

As it says in the newspaper report, the donor cells included in the art organ worked for half a year. As a result, they started to produce insulin when blood sugar levels increased.

Bioreactor takes over insulin production

The heart of the system is a bioreactor that takes over the production of insulin. It was developed together with a biotech company from Israel.

According to SZ-Online, “insulin-producing donor cells are enclosed in the small chamber and kept alive by oxygen. There is a membrane all around. ”

"Similar to the principle of a rain jacket, insulin comes outside, but the immune cells do not approach the foreign cells from the outside," the newspaper report continues.

Human donor cells are insufficient

A team of scientists led by Professor Dr. Stefan R. Bornstein from the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden temporarily implanted such an artificial organ under the skin of a patient.

The implanted bioreactor with human cells reliably produced insulin there for about a year, the university clinic reported at the time in a message in which Professor Bornstein said:

"We estimate that the system will be a therapy option in the treatment of diabetes in five years."

Now they came a good deal closer to this goal. "The problem remains, however, that human donor cells are not available to the required extent," said study leader Bornstein, according to SZ-Online.

However, years ago the experts pointed out that their method could theoretically "also use insulin-producing cells from pigs", "without being rejected by the human organism", says the older communication.

Soon a therapy option in the treatment of diabetes

The current experiments were carried out by Dresden doctor Barbara Ludwig at the German Primate Center in Göttingen with human-like rhesus monkeys.

There was support from King’s College in London. The researchers now want to find out whether the results can also be transferred to humans.

According to SZ-Online, the study is to be reviewed by the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the German federal institute for vaccines and biomedical drugs. Then it will be shown whether clinical trials with patients are permitted.

"Pig cells in humans are new territory for the authorities," Professor Bornstein told the newspaper. But he is confident that the bioreactor can help sufferers in a few years. (ad)

Author and source information


Video: Can the Artificial Pancreas Lead to a Diabetes Cure? (January 2022).