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06
Oct

An experimental new device currently being tested in humans could vastly change the lives of those with Type 1 diabetes, potentially freeing them up from daily insulin injections and monitoring.

Type 1 — or juvenile diabetes as it used to be called — is the less common form of the disease that’s often diagnosed in childhood. In Type 1, the pancreas no longer produces adequate insulin, so patients must rely on daily injections of the hormone to manage their blood sugar.

The promising new device now being studied is called the Encaptra drug delivery system. It’s a capsule about the width of a credit card that is implanted under the skin near the pancreas. Inside are stem cells that have been programmed to develop into pancreatic islet cells, which are the cells that help regulate blood sugar.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is helping to fund research into the device. Dave Prowten, the president of JDRF Canada, says the cells are designed to mature once inside the body and begin producing insulin on their own.

“The hope is that this will provide people with an alternate source of insulin,” he told CTV’s Canada AM Thursday from Calgary.

Because Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks and kills pancreatic cells, the device is also designed to shield the cells from an autoimmune attack.

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