Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bio-engineered organ to mimic pancreas

Today is a very exciting day in the Type 1 Diabetes world. The Diabetes Research Institute in the US, committed solely to finding a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, has announced BioHub, a project to perfect a mini-organ that will mimic the pancreas, housing protected beta cells that can't be destroyed by the crazy suicidal antibodies produced by the overly eager (and totally confused) immune system. The BioHub will respond to the bodies blood glucose level and produce insulin, just like a real pancreas.

The exciting thing about this is that the first step has already been completed. Donor cells have been transplanted into the liver of Type 1 Diabetics freeing them from the need to inject or pump insulin. The downsides of this are that the cells come from deceased donors and anti-rejection drugs must be taken. The next steps are to allow the body to once more produce its own insulin-producing beta cells by developing a container to house the cells and finding an appropriate site within the body to place it.

This video explains some of the exciting ideas the scientists are exploring and is well worth the five minutes it takes to watch.

Whilst it's still important to ensure that adequate funds are donated to organisations, such as JDRF, for the development of more liveable treatments, this is an equally worthwhile cause. I am extremely hopeful that a cure will be available in time for Miss Chief to benefit for a significant and lengthy portion of her life.

If you wish to donate to DRI's BioHub then please visit this page.

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