Scientist Develop Microscale Eye Implant for Diabetes Treatment  

In Education

Swedish researchers have created a microscale eye implant for diabetes treatment and cell-based therapy in the eye, offering promise for patients seeking innovative treatments.

New device houses insulin producing pancreatic cells 

A collaborative effort between Karolinska Institutet and KTH Royal Institute of Technology has produced a 3D-printed device that can house insulin-producing pancreatic cells as well as electronic sensors. It enables the precise placement of mini-organs, like pancreatic islets, within the eye, eliminating the need for sutures. This development holds promise for innovative cell-based treatments, specifically for diabetes, utilizing the eye as a delivery platform.

Senior Bionanotechnology lecturer at SciLifeLab, Anna Herland, notes that the eye is a suitable site for this technology due to its immune cell absence, making it ideal for initial implantation. Its transparency also enables easy monitoring of the implant’s performance over time.

The device is wedge-shaped, approximately 240 micrometers long, and can be securely placed in the anterior chamber of the eye (ACE) between the cornea and iris, marking the first mechanical fixation of such a device in this location.

Wouter van der Wijngaart, a professor in the Division of Micro- and Nanosystems at KTH, said that the medical device was created to contain small living organs in a micro-cage, and it incorporated a flap door technique to eliminate the requirement for extra fixation.  

The microscale device demonstrated impressive stability during tests in mice, integrating well with the animals’ blood vessels and functioning as intended for several months. 

New device could help monitor cell grafts functioning 

Endocrinology professor at Karolinska Institutet Per-Olof Berggren said that the device serves as the basis for ongoing research on an integrated microsystem for studying Langerhans islets in the eye’s anterior chamber, with potential significance for diabetes clinical trials.

The technology addresses a key challenge in the development of cell therapies, particularly for conditions like diabetes, which is the reliance on invasive methods for monitoring and guiding care to ensure the long-term success of transplants. Herland’s work represents a significant advancement in the development of medical microdevices that can both locate and monitor the functioning of cell grafts.

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