New Device May Remove the Insulin Injection Need

Sep, 2020 - By SMI

New Device May Remove the Insulin Injection Need

Currently, the new device is in prototype form and can be switched on or off automatically, by the patient, or by doctor.

The research team from ETH Zurich has developed an implantable device that may remove the insulin injection need for individuals with diabetes. Imagine a device that lets diabetic patients use a remote or app to boost insulin themselves without needing an injection. A new device can just do that, the device allows people with diabetes to control gene expression. It is the first time, the research team used an electric current to control gene expression. Currently, the new device is in prototype form and can be switched on or off from the outside.

Beta cells are cells that make insulin, a hormone that controls the glucose level in the blood. Beta cells are found in the pancreas within clusters of cells known as islets. The body's immune system mistakenly destroys the beta cells in type 1 diabetes. Beta cells release insulin that helps the body metabolize the glucose. However, these cells do not release insulin properly in individuals with diabetes, leading to severe health consequences. It can be managed by controlling the blood glucose levels and by injecting insulin regularly. This new approach could be a promising alternative for diabetic individuals. The device can release insulin remotely on demand.

On one side is a capsule, which consists of engineered human beta cells, a printed circuit board (PCB) controls them. An electrical signal stimulate potassium and calcium channels in beta cells when the PCB is activated by a radio signal. That triggers the insulin gene expression and releases insulin in just a few minutes. The device will be implanted under the diabetic patient’s skin. It can be controlled automatically, by the patient, or by doctor. The team tested the new prototype in the mouse model with type 1 diabetes and found that it can restore normal glucose levels in the blood. The research was published in the Science journal.

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