DUO AN: I have been working on developing cell encapsulation device, where instead of delivering insulin through injections, we were proposing of delivering pancreatic cells which can sense the blood glucose level and then secrete insulin autonomously. And these cells were encapsulated in a cell encapsulation device.
The conventional treatment for type 1 diabetes is through insulin injections, which is very tedious and requires constant attention and strict compliance. However, this insulin treatment does not cure the disease or prevent many devastating effects, such as blindness, neuropathy, heart disease, and stroke. By using cell therapy, the patients only need to receive a one-time transplantation. And their blood glucose level will be self-regulated.
Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. And whatever cells we are going to transplant into the patient has to be protected by an immunoisolation device. Otherwise, the cells will be destroyed by the patient's immune system.
First of all, we want to have a functional device which can provide enough nutrients for the encapsulated cell so the cells are happy inside the patient's body, and they can secrete insulin autonomously based on the patient's glucose level. And also, it is also very important for the device to be mechanically durable so that the surgeon can easily implant and then retrieve the device through a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure.
Because the cells we encapsulated were mature pancreatic cells, and they cannot survive forever, the same as the native pancreatic cells. So once in a while, we have to replace the cell and then retrieve the device.
The first thing we do is to use this clinical grade nylon suture. We took the sutures out and twist the sutures, using a motor.
The suture will be twisted to form a double helix. And it will also generate some torque. And to prevent a torque to release the suture, we twist the suture together again to make it four strands twisted together. And then we make a knot in the end. This will form a stable four-string twisted strand.
The next thing we do is to put this strand onto a holder. This strand will anchor it onto this holder. And then this is a polymer solution which we use to modify the strand. So we put the solution in a trough and just do deep coating of the twisted strand and let it dry.
After the polymer solution is dried, we are going to dip this strand into another solution called alginate solution. OK. We'll dip it into a solution of alginate. And it will cross-link a uniform layer of alginate hydrogel around this strand.
I think we should show this final product. Once the cell encapsulation device is prepared, I gave it to our collaborators. And they helped us transplant this device into the animals. After a while, we can either retrieve or replace the device through a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure.
Our team is working very hard on pushing this project forward. And we hope one day it will be used in a human patient.
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Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. This results in a deficiency of insulin which is essential for the body cells to metabolize glucose. The usual treatment is to inject insulin on a regular basis. Duo An and his colleagues have developed a way to introduce live beta cells in a protective coating so they won't be attacked by the patient's immune system. Furthermore, they have arranged the beta cells and their protective coating along a surgical thread so they can be easily inserted or removed by laparoscopic surgery. An demonstrates the process.