Under-skin transplants show promise for type 1 diabetes
In theory, transplanting insulin-producing cells into the body should work as a treatment for type 1 diabetes. However, in practice, researchers face many challenges, especially in finding a non-hostile environment for the cells. Now, a new study describes a tissue engineering approach that may create a suitable environment under the skin.
In the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) at the University of Toronto in Canada describe how they developed and tested their subcutaneous transplant method in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes.
A significant feature of the study is that the transplant method uses tissue engineering to generate blood vessels that integrate with the host's blood supply.
Insulin-producing cells are very sensitive to lack of oxygen, and inadequate blood supply is a problem that has dogged previous attempts to transplant them.
Type 1 diabetes destroys islet cells
Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when the body cannot stop blood sugar or glucose getting too high.
If untreated, high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, damages many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and blood vessels.
Insulin - a hormone that is produced in the pancreas - is the body's main regulator of blood sugar. It helps cells to take in sugar and use it for energy.
In people with type 1 diabetes, their immune system destroys the islet cells in their pancreas that produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but cannot use it effectively.
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