The ΒAir bio-artificial pancreas, developed in Israel, is going into clinical trials to determine if it can find a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Israel’s Beta-O2 developed the implantable bio-artificial pancreas, which was recently implanted in the first of eight diabetes patients in Sweden.
Islet cell encapsulation
Islet cell encapsulation is being investigated as a cure for type 1 diabetes, however, immunosuppressant drugs must then be taken for the rest of their lives.
To prevent this, Beta-O2’s encapsulation technique protects the transplanted cells from destruction in the immune system, which characterises type 1 diabetes.
Beta-O2’s encapsulation has unique features that provide oxygen into these islet cells, which are “huge consumers of oxygen,” said Dan Gelva, Chairman of Beta-O2.
“This company has taken an engineering approach to finding a way to make sure there is an active supply of oxygen to the transplanted cells,” Gelvan added.
Two-year pilot study
This two-year pilot study is set to cost $1 million, enrolling eight participants and evaluating the safety, survival and function of the implanted Beta-O2 system.
“Ours is a biological device that is meant to restore the original effect of having islet cells,” Gelvan added.
“You have all elements of a functioning pancreas in response to the body’s varying glucose levels. We are actually simulating and emulating the functionality of an organ”.
When speaking about the device’s lifespa, Gelvan said: “We don’t know yet how long it lasts, but conventional islet transplants continue to function well for eight to nine years. We hope that because we’ve created a protected microenvironment fed by oxygen, it will last even longer”.

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