Encapsulating insulin islet cells

As reported by Elie Dolgin in Nature magazine, insulin-producing islet cells could hold the secret to curing Type 1 diabetes, if only scientists could figure out a way to encapsulate and transplant them into the body so that they are not fatally damaged before they can get to work. First, the right biocompatible material must be found to hold these precious cells. A team of bioengineers thinks it has discovered one. Measuring just half a millimeter in diameter, the capsules are made of an ultrapure preparation of alginate, a gelatinous seaweed extract used widely in the food and medical industries. The idea is to embed inside each of these capsules a handful of islet cells, which in turn would secrete insulin into the body. Encapsulating insulin islet cells could be a real move forward in the treatment of insulin dependent diabetes. Read the full article here.

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