An Australian procedure involving the transplant of tiny seaweed bubbles could mean an end to daily insulin injections for diabetes sufferers. Janice Stewart, a 51-year old woman from Cromer in Sydney, has taken four insulin injections every day for the last 40 years. She has further controlled her diabetes with strict diet and regular exercise.
She is thought to be only the third patient in the world to attempt the procedure, which involves a beta-cell transplant into her abdomen. Tiny alginate capsules are the key to the procedure, and protect the body’s islet cells from being attacked and destroyed by the immune system. The capsules, which are about 0.3mm in diameter, have pores on their surface that are small enough to prevent immune cells destroying the islets, yet still large enough to ease the flow of nutrients including oxygen and glucose.
Experts conducting the study foresee that it will not completely remove the need for insulin injections, but will hopefully allow Miss Stewart to significantly reduce her insulin intake. Furthermore, the need for immuno-suppressive drugs as used in traditional transplants will be eliminated. The injections in the abdomen which carry out the transplant are extremely minor, and therefore could open up potential fro the treatment to be carried out on a wider stage.

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