Scientists in America have developed new technology that could help eliminate the need for constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and daily insulin injections for people with type 1 diabetes.
Injectable nanoparticles developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are designed to replace the function of islet cells in the pancreas. Pancreatic islets are clusters of cells that include insulin -producing beta cells, but in patients with type 1 diabetes they are destroyed by an autoimmune attack.
The nanoparticles detect glucose in the blood and respond by releasing the necessary amount of insulin needed to maintain normal blood glucose levels .
According to the research team at MIT, these nanoparticles are housed in an injectable gel-like structure. The gel contains a mixture of oppositely charged nanoparticles that attract one another to prevent the structure from splitting once inside the body . The particles are mostly composed of polysaccharides, meaning they eventually degrade in the body.
In tests with diabetic mice, the team found that just a single injection of the nanogel was sufficient to keep blood glucose levels normal for an average of 10 days.
The scientists are now trying to modify the particles so they can respond to changes in sugar levels at the speed of pancreatic islet cells. They also plan to further develop the system’s delivery properties and work on optimising the dosage that would be needed for use in humans, before testing the nanotechnology in type 1 diabetic patients.
Further information on the new MIT system can be found in a new paper published in the recent issue of the journal ACS Nano.

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