3D Printing

3D-printed scaffolds may make for improved diabetes treatment

3D-printed scaffolds may make ...
A new 3D printing technique is showing promise as a means of better treating type 1 diabetes
A new 3D printing technique is showing promise as a means of better treating type 1 diabetes
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A new 3D printing technique is showing promise as a means of better treating type 1 diabetes
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A new 3D printing technique is showing promise as a means of better treating type 1 diabetes

One way sufferers of type 1 diabetes may compensate for a lack of insulin is through an experimental procedure called pancreatic islet transplantation, a process that sees clusters of cells transplanted from the pancreas of a healthy donor. A side effect of this is the need for ongoing doses of immunosuppressant drugs to stop the body attacking the foreign cells. But a new approach that sees these clusters protected by a 3D-printed scaffold is showing promise as a delivery technique, potentially pointing to less painstaking ways to manage the condition.

For sufferers of type 1 diabetes, crossing the threshold to dangerously low levels of glucose in the blood can have a range of nasty effects including dizziness, sweating or even unconsciousness and death. These episodes are known as hypoglycemia, or hypos for short, and affect around one third of type 1 diabetes sufferers according to Diabetes UK.

Looking to improve the success rate of pancreatic islet transplantation, and by extension the quality of life for type 1 diabetics, researchers from Holland's University of Twente set about building special scaffolds for better delivery. The thinking was that these could shield the cell clusters from the body's immune system and give them a better chance of functioning properly once they were in place.

The researchers embedded the islets in scaffolds made with a mix of alginate and gelatin. They opted for a porous rather than solid structure, as they say this allowed for an ideal exchange of glucose and insulin. Also important was the level of thickness and stickiness of the mixture, as it needed to be firm enough to be used with a 3D printer, but not so much that it impacted the ability of the embedded islets to do their job once transplanted.

In the lab, the researchers found that the islets incorporated into the 3D-printed scaffolds were just as capable of performing their role as regular islet cells. This suggests that the delivery approach doesn't affect their functionality, and that it could provide an effective safeguard against the body's immune system.

"If we are to improve the success of this treatment for type 1 diabetes, we need to create an implant in which islets are embedded, or encapsulated, from a material that allows for very efficient oxygen and nutrient supply, and quick exchange of glucose and insulin, while keeping the host cells out," says one of the study's co-authors, Dr A A van Apeidoorn.

The findings have been published in the journal Institute of Physics.

Source: Institute of Physics

3 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think this is great news for diabetics.
otto17
Already in testing (Nuvilex new name Pharmacyte Biotech (PMCB) using approved 'Melligen' cells) and soon in Clinical Trials 2015.
FDA Grants Orphan Drug Designation to Nuvilex for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment SILVER SPRING, Md. , Dec. 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nuvilex, Inc. (OTCQB:NVLX), a clinical-stage biotechnology company providing cell therapy solutions for the treatment of diseases, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) has granted Nuvilex orphan drug designation for its pancreatic cancer treatment. Nuvilex's pancreatic cancer treatment combines Nuvilex's patented and proprietary cellulose-based encapsulation technology, known as Cell-in-a-Box®, with the cancer prodrug ifosfamide and encapsulated live cells that convert the prodrug into its cancer-killing form. These capsules are placed as close to the cancerous tumor as possible to enable the delivery of the highest levels of the cancer-killing drug at the source of the cancer. This "targeted chemotherapy" has proven remarkably effective in past clinical trials. "Receiving orphan drug designation by the FDA represents a significant milestone in the development of our pancreatic cancer treatment. This achievement is a very important one, both for Nuvilex and our partner Austrianova. It not only facilitates the future development of Nuvilex's pancreatic cancer treatment, but also serves to validate the Cell-in-a-Box® technology," stated Kenneth L. Waggoner , Chief Executive Officer of Nuvilex . Nuvilex is currently preparing for a Phase 2b clinical trial in advanced pancreatic cancer (the orphan indication) in Australia to gain regulatory approval from agencies like the FDA for Nuvilex's targeted chemotherapy of pancreatic cancer. Nuvilex's clinical trial is planned to commence in 2015
BrockAllen
The pharms are just doing their best to make money off selling bogus diabetes "treatments"...about time we focus on the CURES, dont you think? The truth is, when you get right down to it, Diabetes can be completely cured with good diet and exercise. You don’t have to allow yourself to be pumped full of Metformin, Insulin, and whatever the hell else the pharms come up with that they’ll said you “need”. It’s time to focus on cures, not just treatments. I was able to completely cure my Diabetes after having been a long time sufferer.