Dec 13, 2016

Potential diabetes therapy: Engineered cells that control blood sugar

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

Excellent. Now, the question is “has Microsoft seen this?” as they are working on solving Diabetes too as part of their Synbio program that has already shown us their DNA Data Storage.

People with type 1 diabetes must inject themselves with insulin multiple times per day. This is because their immune system has destroyed cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.

A team of bioengineers now report a possible alternative to such injections. The researchers engineered human kidney cells to act like pancreatic β cells, namely to sense blood glucose levels and produce insulin accordingly (Science 2016, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4006). When implanted in mice with type 1 diabetes, the cells prevent high blood glucose levels, also known as hyperglycemia.

Right now, “all we offer diabetic patients to cope with their disease is to have them measure their blood glucose levels and then inject a hormone,” says Martin Fussenegger of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, who led the team that engineered the cells. Although this works, he says, getting the dose right can be tough. “We set out to pioneer a new disease treatment concept.”

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