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- 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”, which encapsulates insulin-producing cells, is capable of naturally producing insulin in a sustained manner.
- If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with type 1 diabetes.
- The silk scaffold was found to be biocompatible (not toxic to living tissue) as it did not trigger any immune reaction.
- The silk scaffold (6 mm in diameter and 2 mm in thickness) was made porous by using salt grains of specific size to dissolve the silk proteins.
- The pores – 400 – 500 micrometre in size – allowed glucose and oxygen to enter the scaffold and insulin released by the beta cells to enter the bloodstream;
- There was also greater cell survival. Insulin producing beta cells taken from 8 – to 10 – week-old rats were added to the scaffold.
- 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.
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