Press Esc to close

'Spider web inspired implant may control type 1 diabetes'

Press Trust of India, New York, Jan 3 2018, 11:47 IST
While there is no cure, a research team led by Cornell University in the US has devised an ingenious method for implanting hundreds of thousands of islet cells into a patient. dh file photo

While there is no cure, a research team led by Cornell University in the US has devised an ingenious method for implanting hundreds of thousands of islet cells into a patient. dh file photo

Scientists have developed a novel removable implant, inspired by the properties of spider web, that may effectively help control type 1 diabetes.

For people with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are literally a matter of life and death. In the disease, insulin-producing pancreatic cell clusters (islets) are destroyed by the body's immune system.

While there is no cure, a research team led by Cornell University in the US has devised an ingenious method for implanting hundreds of thousands of islet cells into a patient.

They are protected by a thin hydrogel coating and, more importantly, the coated cells are attached to a polymer thread and can be removed or replaced easily when they have outlived their usefulness.

Transplantation of stem cell-derived, insulin-producing islet cells is an alternative to insulin therapy, but that requires long-term immunosuppressive drug administration.

One well-researched approach to avoid the immune system's response is to coat and protect the cells in tiny hydrogel capsules, hundreds of microns in diameter.

However, these capsules cannot be taken out of the body easily, since they are not connected to each other, and there are hundreds of thousands of them.

The ability to remove the transplant is key because of its potential to form tumours, researchers said.

"When they fail or die, they need to come out. You do not want to put something in the body that you cannot take out. With our method, that is not a problem," said Minglin Ma, assistant professor at Cornell University.

Taking inspiration from the way water beads on a spider's web, Ma and his team first attempted to connect the islet cell-containing capsules through a string but realised that it would be better to put the hydrogel layer uniformly around a string instead.

That string is an ionised calcium-releasing, nanoporous polymer thread, the researchers said.

This thread - which the group has dubbed Thread- Reinforced Alginate Fiber For Islets enCapsulation (TRAFFIC) - was inspired by a spider's web but, according to Ma, is even better because the hydrogel covers the thread uniformly.

"You do not have any gaps between capsules. With a spider's silk, you still have gaps between the water beads. In our case, gaps would be bad in terms of scar tissue and the like," he said.

This therapy would involve minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to implant about six feet of hydrogel- coated thread into the patient's peritoneal cavity.

Go to Top

More from this section
Most trending stories
Photo Gallery
Two peacocks in a mid-flight at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi...

Two peacocks in a mid-flight at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi...

Former Telecom Minister A Raja addresses the gathering at his book launch 'The 2G Saga...

Former Telecom Minister A Raja addresses the gathering at his book launch 'The 2G Saga...

Police personnel stand guard near the premises of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya...

Police personnel stand guard near the premises of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya...

STF personnel recover gold after a raid which resulted in arrest of most wanted criminal Subodh...

STF personnel recover gold after a raid which resulted in arrest of most wanted criminal Subodh...

Former Miss Earth Nicole Faria addresses the event for felicitation of 112 women achievers...

Former Miss Earth Nicole Faria addresses the event for felicitation of 112 women achievers...

Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai at an event to recognise 112 women achievers, to be honoured...

Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai at an event to recognise 112 women achievers, to be honoured...

A farmer burns the residue of her sugarcane crop at her farm on a cold foggy morning...

A farmer burns the residue of her sugarcane crop at her farm on a cold foggy morning...

Kite-enthusiasts display a kite with an image of Kulbhushan Jadhav during International Kite...

Kite-enthusiasts display a kite with an image of Kulbhushan Jadhav during International Kite...

Honey bees visit a flower near Vijay Chowk area in New Delhi...

Honey bees visit a flower near Vijay Chowk area in New Delhi...

A squirrel eats corn grains on a cold winter morning in Bhopal ...

A squirrel eats corn grains on a cold winter morning in Bhopal ...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.