Scientists Have Developed an Innovative Implantable Insulin Administration Device

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Researchers have suggested that in the near future, an innovative implantable device featuring an integrated “oxygen production unit” might present a viable substitute for the routine administration of insulin in diabetes patients.

Researchers develop surgical implant for blood sugar monitoring

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a compact device, approximately the dimensions of a stick of chewing gum. Once surgically implanted, this innovation holds the promise of effectively managing blood glucose levels in individuals with diabetes. Extensive experimentation on rodents has been conducted, revealing the potential to obviate the constant requirement for blood sugar levels monitoring and self-administration of insulin injections.

The scientists responsible for this breakthrough are preparing to evaluate its effectiveness in human subjects. Furthermore, they posit that the apparatus has the potential to be adapted for addressing various medical conditions requiring regular protein administrations.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research sought to develop a durable implantable device as a substitute for insulin dependence. Most people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are required to vigilantly monitor their blood glucose levels and administer daily insulin injections. Unfortunately, this routine does not replicate the natural ability of the body to manage blood sugar levels.

Insulin producing cell transplants prevent high blood sugar level

The most feasible strategy for treating diabetes by transplanting cells that can produce insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. Some individuals with diabetes have already received such transplants from deceased donors, but they need immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection. An alternative method is to protect these transplanted cells from the immune system using a device. However, ensuring a constant oxygen supply for these cells within the device is a challenge, as existing mechanisms require periodic refilling.

MIT researchers have developed a device to generate a continuous oxygen supply. They used a proton-exchange membrane, originally designed for hydrogen production in fuel cells, to split water vapor into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen dissipates harmlessly, while the oxygen is stored and supplied to islet cells through a thin, oxygen-permeable membrane.

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