Medical

Artificial pancreas uses refillable oxygen tank to better produce insulin

Artificial pancreas uses refil...
The ßAir device is implanted under the skin – an external port allows its oxygen tank to be refilled
The ßAir device is implanted under the skin – an external port allows its oxygen tank to be refilled
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The ßAir device is implanted under the skin – an external port allows its oxygen tank to be refilled
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The ßAir device is implanted under the skin – an external port allows its oxygen tank to be refilled

People living with Type 1 diabetes are certainly faced with some daily hassles, such as finger-prick blood-glucose tests and insulin injections. An Israeli biomedical firm is now stating that such tasks may soon no longer be necessary, however, thanks to its prototype implant.

Developed by Beta-O2 Technologies, the titanium-bodied device is known as the Bio-artificial Pancreas, or the ßAir for short.

Measuring about 2.5 by 2.5 inches (64 mm), it incorporates a macrocapsule containing live pancreatic cells (aka islets), along with an oxygen tank. The cells can be obtained from a human donor, from the pancreas of a pig, or they can be grown from the patient's own stem cells in a lab. An external port on the oxygen tank allows the patient to refill it with oxygen on a weekly basis.

Once implanted under the skin, the ßAir is claimed to continuously monitor blood glucose levels, utilizing the oxygen-fed pancreatic cells to produce and deliver insulin whenever necessary. According to the company, the oxygen supply is the key to the device's success – other experimental islet-equipped artificial pancreases, which rely on the limited amount of oxygen within the patient's bloodstream, reportedly have difficulty keeping the cells viable.

Additionally, no immunosuppressive treatments are required in order to keep the new implant from being rejected by the body. That said, the company states that it can easily be removed if necessary.

The device has already been trialled on four patients in Sweden, who experienced no side effects after carrying the implant for 10 months – the cells remained viable throughout that period. A second-generation version is now being tested on diabetic rats, which have so far maintained normal glucose levels. A larger human trial should begin later this year.

Source: Beta-O2 Technologies

1 comment
Gregg Eshelman
What the next step should be is having this concentrate oxygen from the blood so it needs no periodic refilling.