Your Health: A new approach to type-1 diabetes

Your Health: A new approach to type-1 diabetes
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An estimated 1.6 million Americans are living with type-1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease that causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin.

Related: Michigan made medicine? -- Lawmakers trying to produce insulin in-state

Insulin is what helps our bodies control blood sugar levels. Without it, people are forced to manage their type-1 diabetes with insulin injections and medications, but there may be a way to replace the monitors and pumps for good.

Sydnie Stephens is a busy 12-year-old.

“She does 16 hours of gymnastics. She does five hours of volleyball. She does four hours of track and field and four hours of lacrosse and then, an hour of swim,” said her mother, Dee Dee Stephens-Broussard.

She does all of this while managing her type-1 diabetes. She monitors her glucose levels with her smart phone and now, bioengineers at Rice University are working on a new implant that would replace these monitors.

“We hope that we can have the body regulate its own blood glucose,” Omid Veiseh said.

In type-1 diabetes, a person’s own immune system attacks and kills insulin-producing beta cells within the pancreas. Now, researchers are growing beta stem cells in a lab. A 3D printed hydogel scoffold protects the cells that art implanted in a patient’s stomach area.

“This mesh keeps the immune cells out and at the same time, nutrients and oxygen, as well as the insulin, can diffuse in and out of these biomaterial constructs,” Veiseh said.

This allows the body to create and regulate its own insulin.

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