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article imageSmart cell patch invented for diabetes care

By Tim Sandle     Mar 16, 2016 in Health
To help those with diabetes manage the condition, researchers have developed as so-called “smart cell patch.” The aim is to try to mimic the natural processes in the human body.
To overcome the problem of insulin control for people with diabetes, scientists have developed a synthetic patch filled that contains beta cells. The cells can secrete doses of insulin to control blood sugar levels. The patch is ‘smart’ in that it avoids excessive secretion of the cells, thereby avoiding the risk of hypoglycemia.
For many years scientists have attempted to replicate the functions of beta cells. Beta cells produce insulin and do not function correctly with a person who has diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps to reduce blood glucose concentration. The condition needs to be managed through insulin injections and alternative therapies, such as attempting to transplant more beta cells, normally fail.
Beta cells are found in the pancreatic islets of the pancreas. With someone who does not have diabetes, beta cells react to spikes in blood glucose concentrations by secreting stored insulin, while simultaneously producing more.
By using beta cells, the new patch provides an alternative means of diabetes control, and one that does not harm the patient. The patch is composed of thin polymeric squares (the size of small coin). The patch is covered in tiny needles. These needles are integrated with viable beta cells. The needles are small, about the size of an eyelash and they are composed of biocompatible alginate.
The patches have been tried out on animals and found to be successful. Here, the study showed blood sugar levels in diabetic mice quickly declined to normal levels. The next step is to undertake clinical trials with people.
Commenting on this, lead researcher Dr. Zhen Gu said the study “demonstrates that we can build a bridge between the physiological signals within the body and these therapeutic cells outside the body to keep glucose levels under control.”
The research was a joint project between scientists based at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. The findings are published in the journal Advanced Materials, in a paper titled “Microneedles Integrated with Pancreatic Cells and Synthetic Glucose-Signal Amplifiers for Smart Insulin Delivery.”
More about diabetes help, Diabetes, smart meds, gel patch, Needles
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