Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have successfully created an implantable bioartificial pancreas model grown within a 3D silk scaffold. The pancreas encapsulates insulin-producing cells and is capable of naturally producing insulin in a sustained manner.
Scientists coated the scaffold containing beta cells with a semi-permeable membrane barrier. The membrane allows insulin produced to be released into the bloodstream but does not allow the immune cells to cross the membrane and kill the islet cells.
To ensure that the implant is not rejected by the body’s immune system, drugs that suppress the immune system were embedded in the scaffold.
Studies carried in the lab showed that the beta cells in the scaffold were able to produce an adequate amount of insulin in response to different glucose levels within a few seconds.
If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body’s immune system kills the insulin-producing beta cells. Since type 1 diabetes patients do not have insulin-producing beta cells, the researchers have turned to stem cells to produce beta cells.