Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
The mice immune systems did not attack the new insulin-producing cells. Most important, according to the findings: The cells produced the right amount of insulin: not so much that they sent a mouse into a blood sugar free fall, not so little that blood sugar levels stayed high. The mice have shown no sign of diabetes for more than a year, according to the findings.
Meanwhile, American Diabetes Scientist Zhen Gu, PhD, a professor in the Joint University of North Carolina/North Carolina State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, is working to develop a “smart insulin” patch that imitates the body's beta cells by both sensing blood glucose levels and releasing insulin using a nanotechnology that leverages bioengineering, biochemistry and materials science.
Remember that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and the right medication are all critical to managing type 2 diabetes. Taking the medication your doctor has prescribed for you is key. “Medication adherence can help with glycemic control and A1C reduction, which we know helps with decreasing diabetic complications, like neuropathy, as well as kidney disease,” Gupta says.
Each day, researchers all over the world are working to find a cure for diabetes, and many advances have made treatment easier and more effective. Insulin might soon be available in patch and spray forms, and scientists continue efforts to improve results of pancreas or islet cell transplants. Versions of an "artificial pancreas" — a device that senses blood sugar continuously and gives insulin directly based on the blood sugar level — also are being tested.
“I am extremely pleased to see that technology developed in Tejal Desai’s group is getting to the point that we can explore this for therapeutic purposes,” Matthias Hebrok, PhD, the director of the Diabetes Center at UCSF and a member of Encellin’s scientific advisory board, noted on the UCSF website. “Encapsulation and protection of islet cells remain a critical hurdle that needs to be overcome before cell therapy becomes a reality in type 1 diabetes.”