Type 1 diabetes is at its core a disease of the immune system.
In some cases, for no apparent reasons, the human body’s defences destroy the pancreas tissues that take care of insulin production, making it nearly impossible to carefully adjust the glucose flow inside cells.
Returning the pancreas to a functional state would give people with diabetes a new chance at life, but for all the progress scientists made in the tissue-replacement research, reliably taming a traitorous immune system remained a seemingly impossible challenge.
However, there are finally some signs that we may be close to clearing the hurdle, as US researchers and engineers working on a nano-fibre implant that can guard a patient’s insulin-making cells against their immune system.
Early trials show some positive signs, as mice tests demonstrated that it may be an effective means of treating type 1 diabetes using pancreatic tissue without having to rely on immunosuppressive drugs.
Jeffrey R. Millman, a medical researcher of the Washington University, stated:
“The device, which is about the width of a few strands of hair, is micro-porous – with openings too small for other cells to squeeze into – so the insulin-secreting cells consequently can’t be destroyed by immune cells, which are larger than the openings.”
For nearly a hundred years, type 1 diabetes has been combatted via timely injections of insulin, a process that undoubtedly saved the lives of millions of people.
However, figuring out the adequate quantity of insulin from a bottle into the human body is neither ideal nor risk-free.
In many cases, using an inadequate dosage can lead to life-threatening medical complications.