Some Good News in the World of Medicine.
A recent study has revealed some promising data for those suffering from diabetes. Researchers from the University of North Carolina and NC State have developed artificial cells that automatically release insulin into the bloodstream when glucose levels rise. These “artificial beta cells” (AβCs) mimic the functions of the body’s natural glucose-controllers, the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas. The loss or dysfunction of these cells causes type 1 diabetes and many cases of type 2 diabetes. The study showed that the diabetic mice given these synthetic cells had normal blood levels within an hour, and stayed within normal range for up to five days.
The researchers are also working toward a simpler, less painful method for delivering these artificial cells, such as a skin patch applied every few days.
The Current Issue with Insulin Treatment
According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least six million people in the U.S use insulin for diabetes treatment. Administering insulin has only been effective using injections or pump, both of which can be uncomfortable, painful, and time consuming. The main problem, according to an article written by Mark Derewicz, is that the current insulin treatments can’t control blood glucose levels automatically and efficiently as normal insulin-secreting pancreatic cells do. Transplants of pancreatic cells are possible, yet they are expensive - and quite often fail.
The Future of AβC.
Principal investigator Zhen Gu, Ph.D., a professor in the Joint UNC/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering, said, “Our plan now is to further optimize and test these synthetic cells in larger animals, develop a skin patch delivery system for them, and ultimately test them in people with diabetes.”
These findings could eventually mean an end to constantly worrying about your blood sugar levels as these AβCs will take over when necessary. The future of diabetes treatment is looking bright.
As research continues to make strides in discovering new treatments for chronic illness like diabetes, more alternative, patient-friendly treatments begin to surface - reducing the exposure to dangerous drugs and debilitating side-effects. If you’re suffering from diabetes and your current treatment plan isn’t providing relief, it’s time to discover your alternative options.